Before and for ever after
Enduring presence is
Love’s gift to each of us
Offering assurance and dignity
Vast in generosity
Ensuring that each of us are
Declared as “Beloved Child of God”
At the baptism of Jesus, the voice of God states, “You are my Son, the beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1. 11). This affirmation by God of Jesus is an affirmation that we in turn all receive for Jesus as “God with us” embodies our life. Our story is part of his story and his story is part of our story. Being declared beloved is a bold statement. It looks beyond our pettiness and struggles, it looks beyond our sinfulness and selfishness, it looks beyond our failings and shortcomings; looking directly at our inherent goodness. The goodness that we are created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1.27) is a gift for each of us. This gift declares we are imitators of God (Ephesians 5.1) through the actions of loving one another as Christ has loved us (John 13.34) and in being a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6.19). Here we find ourselves at the centre of the lavish love of the Trinity. Yes, beloved indeed! Each one of us, not just Jesus but because of Jesus.
As Christmas fades to a memory and the New Year musters up speed and courage, we carry forth this gift of being beloved children of God. Christmas awakens us to the promise of God dwelling with us. This dwelling among us is not just for a day or a season but in the living out of our baptismal promises and life. We are the followers of the One born among us, born for us, living in the new kingdom where the cross and resurrection awaken us to the belovedness of each person. We are the followers of the One who loved, welcomed and healed and continues this today through us. We are the followers of the One who trusted, who bolded declared mercy and who we are sealed with in baptism. This can’t just be for a day or a season or in the best intentions as year begins but in the everyday and ordinary.
New Year resolutions come and go, well thought out plans seem to gather dust and our attempts to rise above the mundane seem to stumble. Regardless of all of this still our God remains with us and simply says, “Come and follow me, my beloved child.” As we lean into our belovedness and experience the generosity of our God, we in turn share this generosity – declaring how others too are beloved and valued. It does not matter where we come from, how big or little the bank accounts are, what the color of our skin is, the thrill or disappoint of leadership and governments or the skills and talents we have: beloved is beloved. In being beloved we too help others declare they are beloved. We must look at each other with the eyes of God, the heart of Christ and the openness of the Holy Spirit. This is the treasure (and dare I say responsibility) we carry, ponder and live because of our baptism.