Entering into the World
You begin a new job. You move to a new community. You move on from a broken relationship. You emerge into recovery. You graduate. You are promoted. You are ordained. You are...baptized.
How many different ways do we enter into the world? They are countless. Most of them involve finding our way in a new state of being, and most also require of us a change in scenery and associations. All of them take us past what we have known, what we have been sure of in the past.
Using a metaphor from my childhood, summer break swimming lessons, we can usually find out how we react to these invitations to enter a new world. Some kids would stick a toe or a finger in the water to check the temperature. Others would sit on the side and dangle their feet into the water, acclimating in part to the cooler waters of the morning swim. Some would take quite a while to get in, even longer before they would put their head under...
...And some would plunge in, perhaps even with a cannonball bunching of limbs to make the biggest splash they could possibly manage.
The water was the same temperature for all of us, it was out actions relating to it that exhibited how we choose to enter into new worlds. I am still friends with some of those kids I took swimming lessons with back in the day. It's remarkable how their choices in dealing with a large mass of night-cold water bear out in how they deal with the other "cold plunges" of life. Some are tentative. Some dangle themselves into new situations a bit at a time. Some scream "kowabunga" as they leap wholeheartedly into the new.
When Jesus arrives at the banks of the Jordan, his appearance has been heralded by a prophetic figure, in John, who points to HIM as the one-who-is-to-come. Jesus asks to be baptized. Actually, he insists because John wants HIM to baptize, not the other way round. No, says Jesus, let's do it this way...let's do the proper thing. They both enter the water, and I am sure it was cold. But what did it mean, that Jesus the Son of God should insist on submitting to John's baptism?
It meant that God was "all in" on Jesus being truly human, truly in the mix of life's struggles with us. It completes Jesus' entering into the world as the incarnate Son. Heaven itself acknowledges it, we witness it. God has just done the cold plunge into our mortal lives...fully entered into, participating in, made part and parcel of our daily existence.
Just like that one kid who sees the pool, knows it is cold and runs with abandon to the edge and with a joyful shout jumps as far out into the water as possible, so God has entered into our lives.
Now, that's an entrance. It's also a model for our entrances, innumerable as they are, into new lives as we grow and change. They can be embrace with the same joy and release to the new that Christ modeled for us. Even when we just put a toe or a fingertip in to test, the reality that God is with us in the new is still an assurance that though challenged, we will not be alone. God is right there with us. Right there.