We struggle with this idea of baptism and death going together, because we don’t think dying can be something positive. We don’t think dying can be a gift. But there are parts of us, and powers alive in this world, that need to die. That must die, if we are ever to fully know love and grace and community and freedom.
Our Psalm for today is a challenging one. It is a reality check for us, following the great comfort and hope and good news of Christ’s birth. It is a reminder that God has come into our world, but not any God, not a God of our own choosing or making. But the God of justice, the God of the poor and oppressed, the God who chooses the forgotten. And it is a reminder that God calls and challenges us to do the same, in every part of our lives, in every part of our world.
John is reminding us today that Christmas is not just for those inside of churches today. It is not just for those who sing the loudest to Christmas songs or wear the brightest Christmas sweaters or put out the most Christmas lights. It’s not just for the cheery people who seem to have everything going well. Christmas is for snakes. It is for those who have been left out. Those who others call scary. Those who think they have made too big of mistakes that no one can forgive.
Let’s join with God in flattening those mountains and lifting up those valleys and smoothing those paths, so that others can know peace, know joy, know love.
Lift up those who are forgotten and ignored. Be present with those who are hurting. Speak for compassion and justice for all humanity. And show God’s love to all, especially those who don’t believe God can love them.
Jesus is the image of the invisible God. And the way he lived, the way he taught, the way he walked with people, cared for people, died for people is the way God loves us.
God has come into the world, take on our flesh, lived and healed, breathed, and touched, died and rose again, so that all the powers of evil, sin, and death would be conquered. We may not be strong enough to overcome sin on our own, but Christ is.
God may not always respond as we wish, but God never says, “I’m too busy. Stop asking. Instead, God says to us, I’m always here. And I always want to be a part of your life.