Giving God a Little Room

Weekly Reflection, Sunday, January 12, 2020

By: David May

The Church has always treasured the story of Jesus’ baptism. Since it’s very earliest days, the Church set aside the Sunday following the Day of Epiphany (always January 6th) to remember Jesus’ baptism. It is very precious for those who follow Jesus to remember that we have been baptized just like he was. Jesus plunged into the waters of baptism in solidarity with all the rest who streamed out to the wilderness who were looking for a second chance, a new beginning, a fresh start, or who were just hoping that such things were possible. Did Jesus need a second chance on life, a new beginning, a fresh start? Maybe not the way we do. But his baptism did start something brand new in his life. Immediately following his baptism, ready or not, he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness out past and beyond what he had known before. We know now that he wrestled with Satan during that time, a time that refined and defined what his ministry would be. But I don’t think Jesus knew that. What did he know of what was to come? Maybe nothing, other than knowing that his heart was right beside God’s heart, come what may.

Amelia McDaniel shared a quote with me a few days ago that speaks of this going forward without knowing what’s coming next. The quote is: “God uses uncertainty to chase us out into the open where we can find him all over again.” I like this quote. A lot. I think it speaks right into our experience of our brother, Bob Hetherington, concluding his ministry here at St. Mary’s today and wondering what will come next.

Bob’s departure leaves a big, old, holy hole in our community. A hole we might be tempted to try to fill too quickly. I think we probably shouldn’t try to fill it at all, actually. I think we should just leave it there – the place our love for him made – as a reminder of how much we need one another, and how much we can belong to one another.

It’s so tempting to want to rush into the uncertainty of not knowing what comes next and make it certain – to fill empty holes. I understand why people want to do that because I want to do that sometimes. But I think it’s better to try and give God a little room to work. If we can keep an open space about what comes next, maybe we stand a chance of finding God or being found by God.

On this day when we celebrate Jesus pitching his lot with us by being baptized too; on this day when Banks Wall and Chloe Slade and Alston Mayfield join Jesus and us in the waters of baptism; on this day when the Spirit is leading Bob on to what comes next, and us; on this day, may we be led to leave space open for God to work, out past and beyond what we already know, and keep our own hearts right there beside God’s heart.