Beginnings are always exciting.
Well, maybe not always, sometimes they are pretty nerve-wracking, like the birth of a child or a new job. My heart skips a beat just thinking about it!
But, often, beginnings are exciting. Like the birth of a child or a new job.
Sometimes new beginnings are a chance to start over, to try again.
I don’t know about you, but the mistakes I make are often the same mistakes over and over again, a bad habit that won’t go away despite how many times I quit forever and ever amen.
New Years is a fun time, a new time, a fresh baby new year not worn out yet, a chance to set aside the resentments and grudges that we bury each other in, and start over, over and over again.
Starting over seems to be one of those habits that rarely takes but we keep at it anyway.
The persistence of that habit of starting over itself seems to be the important thing. It reveals something about life and about the God of life. The invitation and gift of beginning again is always there.
Jesus comes up out of the water of Baptism. The sky is torn open, the Spirit descends like a dove and the words of love and delight are heard from above.
It is a new beginning, like the Spirit brooding over the waters of creation at the beginning of all things, like the dove returning to Noah with the olive branch, the promise of the world starting over.
A starting over moment, the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, when he is anointed as the Messiah, the one who brings freedom from the accumulated grudges of history, and freedom means work.
A creation moment, when creation starts over, like Noah’s Ark finding land and starting the world over again. What will the new world be like this time? Will the same bad habits persist?
All these Bible stories remind us that freedom is an elusive thing.
If you know anyone involved in the 12 Step Movement, recovery from addiction means always working at it.
Recovery means always living with brokenness, never fully recovering, just sobriety one day at a time. Living with that brokenness becomes the means of grace. That recovery of freedom comes with the work of reconciliation, of healing past wrongs and passing on that gift of freedom.
Freedom means work.
To live with the gift of God’s grace means being given a job to do, of always helping the world start over, of living with our brokenness and finding the means of grace.
We worship a messiah who was anointed by more than the Spirit, he was anointed by his own blood, by the cross. We worship a crucified messiah, in God’s brokenness the world finds the means of grace and freedom.
Today we renew our baptismal covenant as we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord and the gift of the Spirit that joins us to Jesus.
The work of the anointed, the work of freedom, the work of living with brokenness, that is what comes with Baptism.
Today we celebrate the New Year, the New Creation starting over with the renewal of our Baptismal Covenant.
This is one of those good and holy habits that persists.
God never gives up on us.
God never stops pushing us toward freedom.
God never lets us rest for very long from the ministry of making all things new.
Find God’s demanding grace in the wounds of the crucified Messiah and the wounds of this life.
This is one of those beginning moments.
It is exciting and nerve-wracking, like the birth of a child or a new job.
Let us begin.