Living as Beloved. Ultimately is this not what as Christians are striving for, to live as the beloved? “Here is my son, the beloved” which was testified by God at the baptism of Jesus is said of each of us at our baptism as well.
As I ponder that, I must ask myself if it is only at my baptism that I claim my belovedness and live as a beloved Child of God? Should it not be each day of my life? In my daily living and being, my life is ultimately a reflection of how I embrace being beloved. It causes me pause as I reflect on my ways, words, thoughts and deeds. Am I reflecting Christ? Am I carrying the gift of him born; the gift of Christmas with me into every day living? Am I fulfilling my baptismal promises of priest, prophet and king?
These questions awaken me to what living as beloved is all about. Living as beloved is about transformation. Opening myself up to the life of Christ and surrendering my all into Him who entered this world and lived in it. Transformation can feel scary, it can seem unattainable and even abstract. Yet realistically transformation begins with our first breaths and in baptism and continues through each stage of life. Transformation leads us closer to Christ, deeper into God’s love and free to surrender into the Holy Spirit’s life-giving breath.
Why do we fear transformation so much? I think it is because we build upon scary, unattainable and abstract instead of the hope, realistic and concrete gift that transformation is for the journey. We build on the scary part when we allow our fears, judgments and others perspectives to taint our being beloved. Transformation can feel unattainable when we leave it simply as broken resolutions, empty promises and fledgling vows. Transformation is only abstract when we create illusions of who we are as beloved instead of leaning into the gift and discovering the graces which come with it.
Christmas is the reminder of how our lives were transformed by and in love. God came among us and decided to stay among us. Christmas is at the root of our being beloved. It is God affirming how much God loves the world and us and how we are called to life in this love. As the Christmas Season begins to fade and the mid-point of month one of 2020 draws near this transforming love must once again settle into our bones and lives. Not just in nice words, quick hopes and fancy wishes, but in how we embrace the gift of being beloved, how we help others encounter this gift and how we allow the Beloved One to dwell in our hearts.
I know that for myself embracing the transforming gift of being God’s child is only possible by consciously choosing to see it each day. I can easily get caught up in the: “Me, I’m not beloved” cycle of self loathing, empty promises and failed attempts. When I do this, I am allowing fear to take hold, not God’s heart. Transformation; embracing being beloved is a daily choice and daily gift. I am rediscovering this as I have been settling into new ministry and surroundings over the past few months. I so often want it to be instant and lasting forever. Transformation doesn’t work this way, it is ongoing, it is piece by piece, it is allowing being beloved to penetrate not only my head and ideas but more so my hear, my actions and every cell of my body.
Claiming this belovedness is realizing what St. Irenaeus of Lyon said: “Jesus became what we are that he might make us what he is.” And what Jesus is, is the Beloved One. Which means, yes, we are too! We are divinized (made beloved/holy) and become like God because God first loved us is another way of saying it. This calls us to transforming love, which the letter of John reminds us, “we love because he first loved us” (1 John 4.19)
Love is in our very DNA.
Love is transformational,
Love is the gift of baptism and each breath we take
because it awakens us to the truth:
“Here is my child, you are my beloved.”
How can we deny ourselves this gift?
I know it doesn’t make sense to do so, rather I am striving to embrace it more each day.
“By the power of your birth (and baptism),
make us new persons, O Lord.”
– Morning Prayer Friday after Epiphany