A voice came from heaven,
“You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
All three of the synoptic gospels speak of the baptism of Jesus, and all three of them have the above noted line in some form. The word beloved has never been my favorite word. I think mostly that comes from it being over used in funeral cards and at funerals, so each time I hear the word beloved I think of an obituary and those nice little cards we are handed when we attend a funeral. However, this week the word beloved stood out for me as I read and contemplated the baptism of Jesus. (Luke 3.15-16, 21-22)
Beloved – dearly loved, dearest, precious, adored, much loved, cherished
The definition of beloved indeed means it is an excellent choice of word when we our honouring a deceased loved one. However, it is also an excellent choice of word for each us to live with in our everyday. For just as in the baptism of Jesus God declares, “He is my beloved” so God does in our baptism. We are God’s beloved children – beloved daughters and sons – members of the God’s great and diverse family.
I am now learning to move beyond the looking back perspective of beloved (funeral) and learning to embrace it in my everyday. Not just when we reflect back on the life lived is the word beloved necessary, it is necessary today. In a world were human value and dignity does not seem to be valued claiming our belovedness only opens our hearts more and more to God’s pure delight over us.
Just as at the baptism of Jesus the voice from heaven says to him “with you I am well pleased,” so it is true for each of us. No matter who we are, where we have been, how good or bad, how rich or poor, how broken or put together we are God is well pleased with us. With you, with me, with our neighbours, with all of creation because God is love (1 John 4). God knows the depths of love within God’s self and within each of us. God knows our yearnings and desires for love; this is what means to be God’s beloved. God is well pleased because God has created us out of an overflowing, life-giving, endless, deep-goodness love. The love between God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit is so rich it overflows into us and all creation; it creates, re-creates, sustains and claims us again and again as PLEASING, as GOOD, as WORTHY and as BELOVED. This may be hard to see in our world today as it feels like it is just one sad story after another, or one agony more or one form of destruction greater, but no matter how bleak it may seem or look or how much we who are created out of love fail to share that love, God DOES NOT. God’s love is endless, forever, with us now, raising us up, and delights in the beauty that defines us at our core… God’s beloved.
This week as I have been pondering the gift of being beloved, I have been working at my desk and as I look up a photo has caught my eye several times. I have now entitled this photo “Beloved” for it was looking at this photo that the word beloved came alive for me and I saw God in pure delight, rejoicing over each one of us and celebrating the depth of love that is pleasing and good. I hope that you too can see God and yourself in the photo. Regardless of who is in this photo it speaks to me about God’s tenderness, closeness and how we are God’s beloved cradled in love and hope. We are indeed pleasing and a delight for God and God desires nothing more than for us to be held close to God’s heart.
As this week unfolds may reminders of how each one of us are beloved penetrate our days, our prayers and our relationships. I leave you with a thought I shared this past week with a classmate of mine who was having a tough week. These words poured out of me as a prayer for her and they seemed to come from the heart of God not only for my classmate but also for me and for everyone.
You are created good.
You are worthy.
You have amazing gifts.
You are loved.
You are God’s Beloved.
Light to fill you and burst through your beautiful cracks.
Peace to be at your core.
God’s love whispered in your quiet prayer and daily living.