First Sunday of Lent

Author: Chad Hyatt

Mark 1:9-15

Reflection: v. 11, ‘in you I delight’

Photo is from a pre-Covid19 service

As we begin Lent, we turn to a story that inaugurates the ministry of Jesus: his baptism by John. The Gospel writers see in this story an important moment in discerning the identity of Jesus. I believe this story can illumine the core of human identity, as well. A friend of mine told me recently that he had come across a simple, startling, and surprisingly healing word of counsel: God likes him. He contrasted that particular verb choice to the more familiar idea of God loving him. He accepted that God did love him, of course. But from his perspective, it felt like something that God was more or less obligated to do—because, well, God is just good like that. But thinking of God actually liking him was proving to be a liberating and life-affirming experience for my friend. Yes, God does like us. The heart of God is drawn out towards us always. Just as Jesus hears the voice of God claiming him at his baptism, so should we. We are also claimed in our baptism as children of God, beloved. But lest we think like my friend that love is merely a contractual agreement that God is bound to with human beings, let us dare to trust that God truly finds happiness in us and delights in our very being. There are so many competing voices in our world—and especially in this present moment. Perhaps it’s not their presence all around us—because that’s nothing new—but their strident and unrelenting loudness, ringing in our ears, constantly demanding our attention. And if it isn’t the voices from the outside, then perhaps it’s the voices in our own heads—well-worn, incessantly critical, telling us we’re not ‘good enough,’ destructive sirens of pain and shame. I encourage us this Lent, as we renew once more the call to follow Jesus wherever he leads, to remember our own baptism, to call to mind once again that God has claimed us, and marked us with the sign of the cross. And may we hear clearly the voice of God above all others—opening wide the heavens themselves—tenderly reminding us that we are indeed children of God, beloved beyond our imagining. And let us hear, perhaps for the first time, that our very humanity—who we are uniquely as a person—delights the one who loves us so fiercely.

Prayer O God, I dare to believe you delight in me.

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