First Sunday after the Epiphany
You Are Beloved . . .
One of my most treasured photographs captures my mother holding me on my baptism day. She is cradling me to her chest, my head upon her shoulder. Beside us is a statue of the Blessed Mother, Mary. In addition to this perfect picture of maternal love, there is something else that strikes me in the photo—the look on my face. My tiny head is raised, gaze turned upwards. While many may argue this is not atypical for an infant, I’ve often wondered if my small self was tuned into something beyond the physical setting of that day, in awe of a love beyond that of my mother, or even Jesus’ mother. Can a child so young know a love as infinite as that of our amazing God?
Can a child so old know such love?
I was born and raised Roman Catholic; baptisms were done privately with family and close friends, outside of the regular service time. When I joined the Moravian Church, I was struck by our tradition of celebrating baptism within the service, before the entire congregation. Each baptism I witness is a celebration of love—the love of God, the love for the one being baptized, and the love of family, friends, and the congregation, all of whom covenant to love and nurture the beloved child of God receiving the waters of baptism that day. The sacrament is powerfully moving, reminding me that I am part of a wider community grounded in the love of the Triune God.
In our broken world, such love can feel elusive. We can feel abandoned by those called to love us; abandoned by a God to whom we are deaf and blind; and even abandoned by ourselves as we give up and give in to earthly escapes. But love is here. Whispering on the wind—you are beloved. Boldly declaring from the heavens—with you I am well pleased. The challenge before us is to set aside our worldly attachments and instead tune into heavenly love.
All children, young and old and in between, can know a love as infinite as that of our amazing God. All we need do is look and listen.
Laura Gordon, pastor, Advent Moravian Church, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania