As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah… (Luke 3:15)
This weekend we will celebrate the Baptism of the Lord – the day when we remember Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan. Some years we end up combining this remembrance with Epiphany. But while Epiphany is the end of the Nativity story, the Baptism of Jesus is where his story really takes off.
In our passage, we come into contact with John, Jesus’ older cousin, who is the forerunner to the Messiah. He is the voice crying out in the wilderness to prepare the way. He is the one calling for repentance, with remarkably strong language. If he is the Messiah, we are all in a heap of trouble, because not many will make the cut.
But there is something about this prophet that the people can sense. They know that he is somehow related to Messiah. They can tell the dawn of God’s salvation is hovering just below the horizon. And they are filled with great expectation of what that new day will bring.
Every new year we enter into a similar kind of expectation. As one familiar story draws to a close, another story begins. With it comes our hopes and dreams, our anxieties and our fears – for we do not know what our future holds. We wonder if we will see God’s promises come to life in our midst.
The truth for us is the same as it was for the people standing at the Jordan two thousand years ago: God’s promises are already coming alive all around us. Even when things seem beyond the pale, God is still there working wonders. God has never left. We just have to pay attention and we will see the marvels of God.
As my grandmother once told me, “it always seems the darkest just before the dawn. Lift up your eyes.” Though it may not look the way we think it should, God is here, working all things for good – because God loves us more than we can imagine. Though we cannot know precisely what the future will hold, we can trust that there are wonder-filled days ahead.