The Gospel Reading is Matthew 3:13-17.
One of the strengths of Lutheran Christianity is our love of questions. Even Martin Luther’s Small Catechism is built around the question “what does this mean?” Lutheran Christianity, to me, has always embraced questions because questions help us explore the gifts of faith and grace that God gives us. Questions, in a way, are a gift from God too.
But questions are not always easy; some questions, especially when we ask them for the first time, are very hard. One of these kinds of questions is about our image of God. This isn’t a question focused on what God looks like (or what kind of cloud God sits on, how long is God’s beard is, what eye color does God have, etc). This is a question wondering who God is and how do we experience God. Do we focus on God’s power, control, and might? When we think of God, do we see God like a king of old, with ultimate authority? Or do we focus on God’s use of power through care and love? There are many different images of God and our images of God will change. Our images of God do not limit who God is. Instead our images of God let us relate to God so we can live our lives.
Today’s readings display different images of God. In Isaiah 42, God’s power and majesty is shown through the act of creating everything. This power is tempered because God calls God’s servants to not damage bruised reeds or snuff out burning wicks. The sermon in Acts 10 is about knowing God because we know Jesus. And Jesus’ ministry, life, death, and resurrection paint God in a very human and personal light.
The baptismal story in Matthew shows another image of of God. Jesus doesn’t need to be baptized (because why would God’s Son need to be connected to God?) but Jesus wants to be baptized. Jesus chooses to walk into the River Jordan and let John pour water over him. God lets humans do something to, and with, God. That’s an image where God is not just with us but desires to be impacted by us. That makes God, in Jesus, vulnerable just like we are.
Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for 1/08/2017.