January 7, 2024: The Moment of Baptism

Winter scene depicted through a crystal ball

First Sunday after the Epiphany

The Moment of Baptism

I wonder what John was feeling when he baptized Jesus. We get some idea when we read his humble confession, “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.” But what were the other emotions? After all, Jesus was family. We know Elizabeth, John’s mother, was a relative of Mary. Did they play together as boys at family gatherings? Did they go fishing together? What was that like for John to bring Jesus up from the water and see that dove and hear that heavenly voice?

I have been blessed to serve the same congregation for thirty-three years. I have been baptizing infants whose parent or parents I baptized. It is the profound emotions I experience, because of these long relationships that lead up to the moment of baptism, that has me wondering about how John felt.

John had baptized so many others, but what was happening in his heart in this moment with Jesus? Did John feel that now his work was complete? Did he have fear and concern for his cousin and what lay ahead of him? Was he thinking about the rest of the family and what this day meant for them? Was he simply filled with joy in the hope of the emerging kingdom of God?

Every time we experience an infant, a teenager, or an adult coming to that moment of baptism, it is such a convergence of our love and hope, as well as God’s love and grace. There is no greater gift than to know that God is speaking through the church in that moment.

“You are my child, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Matt Knapp, pastor, Sturgeon Bay Moravian Church
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin