Baptism of Truth

13 Jan

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for the Baptism of the Lord, Sunday, 13 January 2013
Baptism of Truth
If you’ve ever witnessed a full-emersion baptism, you likely will have seen the person come up out of the water and immediately run their hands over their face to remove the excess water. It is a reflex. Then another person may hand them a towel (and a hug.) Most likely they are also smiling. The baptism itself probably didn’t catch them by surprise because it is a choice, even if making the decision came as a surprise in the moment, like when the Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip, “Look, here’s water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” (Acts 8:36) He saw the Truth within himself and took action to stop the chariot (v 38), get baptized, and make a new beginning. We can begin with the end in mind or begin with the New Beginning in mind.
Jesus began His ministry with His Father’s Kingdom in mind. The Church-as-collective-Body has already been “baptized with the End in mind,” but it wasn’t the kind of End that God had in mind. The Church has already experienced the Lord’s “winnowing fork in His hand” as He cleared the threshing floor to “gather the wheat into His granary” just as John the Baptist said would happen. (Luke 3:17) Each of us has been given a part to share in furthering God’s kingdom so the Holy Spirit can gather more “wheat.” It is a Great Harvest! My part in the harvest is to share is these Reflections. I have tried to apply what I have been taught by men: “begin with the end in mind,” so a few years ago I set a goal of publishing my Reflections. I have tried reaching out on three continents to publishers, as well as to editors, authors, bishops, priests, pastors, and prophets, as they have resources and connections (and make those connections seemingly effortlessly, because it is a gift, so they don’t have to work hard at it like some of us do.) I have even tried self-publishing, but I cannot “save” myself by my own efforts. Still the Grand Silence continues. I’ve thought of approaching publishers who address Eastern Philosophy, as there are many principles which overlap with Christian precepts. But I run into a consistent problem, which is that I write “Bible speak.” The inter-faith principles may be similar, but our language/conceptual reference point is different. I don’t write “Buddha speak” or “Koran speak.” I write “Bible speak.” Plus, I currently earn no income from my writings so I cannot pay to get the word out to share the kingdom beyond “religious” doors and the crystal fortresses of “No speak.” We all have been “baptized” in the truth and I am still waiting at the Mercy Gates of Compassion and Understanding. [Sigh. Forgive. Release.]
I’ve been reflecting on Jesus’ baptism for direction. Both Jesus and the people were all baptized. (Lk 3:21) We, the Church, have all been “baptized” through these trials we have collectively been through. It was after Jesus’ baptism and His prayers that the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove. (v 22) A dove is a symbol of peace. I pictured Jesus standing in the Jordan River with a dove on Him. As I let this anchored image steep into my being, another image added to it: the image of the stork [representing birth] stood on the banks of the river on either side. I thought of Zechariah 5. In Zechariah’s vision he sees “two women” with the wind in their wings. They have wings like those of a stork. (Zech 5:9) My NIV Notes say:
““two women.” Divinely chosen agents. “wind.” Also an instrument of God (Ps 104:3-4). The removal of wickedness would be the work of God alone.” (p 1405)
The agents are not wicked. The spiritual influences buffeting them are removed. This is good because Evil happens when good men do nothing. These “two women” lift up the basket of wickedness between heaven and earth. (v 9) This “basket of wickedness” already has an effective lead cover of CYA (Cover Your Assets) over it.
Zech 5:8 He [the angel] said, “This is wickedness,” and he pushed her back into the basket and pushed its lead cover down on it.
CYA also has already built a “house” of “Jack” for it. “Club Church” does an effective marketing campaign to woo, win, teach, and wow converts but doesn’t know how to disciple real people and churches and to come alongside them.
Zech 5:10 “Where are they taking the basket?” I asked the angel who was speaking to me.
11 He replied, “To the country of Babylonia to build a house for it [which has already been done.] When the house is ready, the basket will be set there in its place.”
It IS set there in its place.
Lord, Your Cross forms a “t” for Truth. You said: “The Truth will set us free.” What do we do when Freedom has been held captive because the Truth has been suppressed and held hostage in solitary confinement for years on end? The Church-as-Institution has held to her own teaching and made her own converts, but You said:
John 8:31 To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
I know this is true: Truth defeats wickedness. Three and a half years after Your baptism, Jesus, You would tell Pilate that You were born and came into the world to testify to the Truth. (John 18:37) Your life testified to Your deep knowing of the Truth of the Father’s Words voiced on Your day of baptism:
“You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22)
Pleased. Beloved.
Jesus is saying the same thing today to the Seven Churches. He is still standing in the Living Waters and the dove of peace is still on Him. We are being baptized into God’s Truth. The “two women” could be actual, or they could also be the two parts of the archetypal Church of Thyatira. (Rev 2:18-23 and 24-29) Churches are referred to in the feminine concept just as ships are. And Jesus did say,
26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—
27 ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron;
They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—
as I also have received from My Father; 28 and I will give him the morning star.
29 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’
There has been much talk lately of overcoming and I honestly cannot tell which “star” (morning or otherwise) the Churches have been looking at. I’ve seen a lot of aggressiveness, but then that is what Jesus said would happen.
In Zechariah’s vision just prior to seeing the basket of wickedness (in chapter 5 of Zechariah) he had the vision of the “flying scroll” (v 1) [which I pictured like the Internet.] This flying scroll has also been roaming between heaven and earth like the basket, but where the basket had a destination, the scroll kept flying. I really don’t think the “scroll” itself is necessarily oooh, evil, “bad,” even though it is “The Curse.” […Drum roll, please…] What curse does not also carry the potential of blessing hidden within its belly? The good news is that the “flying scroll” zooming into houses (even houses of God) has limits. (v 2) There are limits to how much babbling can be endured. Discernment is required when “scrolling.” The truth can be hidden, distorted, twisted, oppressed, and abused, but it cannot be killed without resurrection following it.
Zech 5:3 And he said to me, “This is the curse that is going out over the whole land; for according to what it says on one side, every thief will be banished, and according to what it says on the other, everyone who swears falsely will be banished. 4 The LORD Almighty declares, ‘I will send it out, and it will enter the house of the thief and the house of anyone who swears falsely by my name. It will remain in that house and destroy it completely, both its timbers and its stones.’”
Excuse me? Isn’t Satan the thief and the liar? As I read those verses I pictured a computer gone viral. Does character go viral? Can it even do that? Or does our character contain the anchored Truth of our beloved-ness? Do we trust our beloved-ness in Christ?
In today’s Old Testament lectionary readings from Isaiah 43 God says:
Isa 43:3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.
“Egypt” represents oppression (see the Exodus story). “Ethiopia” represents the unchanged heart prior to experiencing transformational grace. (cf Jeremiah 13:23 and then Acts 8:26-40) “Seba” represents merchandise exchangers. (cf Ezek 27:22 paired with Rev 18 and then paired with Rev 21:15-21)
Isa 43:4 Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life.
God has done the same thing with the Seven Churches. He has given them in exchange for the whole Church-as-Bride. God used the few as a ransom for many. The good news is that the Churches-as-Institution are not actual people. They are a concept. God cares about people. The Church-as-Institution has been oppressed by a spirit of Control which has sent many of the rest of us into exile. It is the same Exile as that of the Israelites, as that of the Dalai Lama from Tibet, and as that of sex traffickers exchanging lost innocence for power. Through God’s redemptive work He is giving us real people and nations our lives back in exchange for the Institution! Woo! Woo! Isn’t this exciting? The Institution is not real but a concept, so this was a very clever ransom God designed. “Ethiopia” also stands out; it is translated as “Cush” in some Bibles and is the “land of whirring wings” (Isaiah 18). And this land has already received “swift messengers.” There were seven angels sent to the Seven Churches! And they went to the USA.
Isa 18: 1Woe to the land of whirring wings [helicopters?]
along the rivers of Cush [Is this a relative of Crush?],
2 which sends envoys by [spiritual] sea
in papyrus boats [books, films, and glossy catalogs] over the “water.”
Go, swift messengers,
to a people tall and smooth-skinned,
to a people feared far and wide,
an aggressive nation of strange speech [cf Rev 2:27],
whose land is divided by rivers [of multiple denominations].
A “banner” has already been raised on the mountains and we have seen it. (Isa 18:3) A “trumpet” has already been sounded (v 3) and we really did “hear” it even though we pretended that we didn’t. And God remained quiet and looked on from His dwelling place like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest. (v 4) And He really did cut off “shoots” with “pruning knives” and took away the “spreading branches” (v 5) when the Churches were not honest and were trying to get away with stuff.
Isa 18:7 At that time gifts will be brought to the LORD Almighty
from a people tall and smooth-skinned,
from a people feared far and wide,
an aggressive nation of strange speech,
whose land is divided by rivers—
the gifts will be brought to Mount Zion, the place of the Name of the LORD Almighty.
This To-and-From dance has been going on with “a people tall and smooth-skinned” etc, for years now. And yet I also know that my gifts of Reflections have literally been brought to Mount Zion, to the Wailing Wall itself, via Prophet Kim Clement on Friday, 28 December 2012. I also trust what God says to the people in today’s Old Testament lectionary lesson:
Isaiah 43:5 Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you;

43:6 I will say to the north [North America], “Give them up,” and to the south [Southern California], “Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth–

43:7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

Two thousand years ago Jesus was baptized in Truth. Now today He is gathering us together after having already “baptized” us in His Truth as His people. Lord, Your Word is Truth. We bow our heads and marvel at Your majesty and wisdom. We already have been “baptized” in Your Truth and then we reflexively tried to wipe off the Living Water from our faces like little kids in a bathtub. Please wrap us in Your heavenly bathrobe; give us Your peace and hold us to Your chest, and send forth Your word. Thy loving will be done. Amen.
Baptism of the Lord 13 January 2013 Gospel: 3:15-17, 21-22
Isaiah 43:1-7
43:1 But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

43:3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.

43:4 Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life.

43:5 Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you;

43:6 I will say to the north, “Give them up,” and to the south, “Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth–

43:7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

Psalm 29
29:1 Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

29:2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name; worship the LORD in holy splendor.

29:3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over mighty waters.

29:4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

29:5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.

29:6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.

29:7 The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.

29:8 The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

29:9 The voice of the LORD causes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, “Glory!”

29:10 The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.

29:11 May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!

Acts 8:14-17
8:14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.

8:15 The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit

8:16 (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus).

8:17 Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
3:15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah,

3:16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

3:17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

3:21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened,

3:22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

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