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The enduring of dissonance

What is it about a baptism that would send Jesus out into the wilderness?

What is it about the Spirit that would drive him out into the wilderness?


In my mind this is the same little plot trick that befell Adam and Eve. They ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Jesus was baptized and received the holy spirit. They were cast out of Eden, Jesus was driven off into the wilderness and beset with temptations. But again, I wonder, what is it in a baptism?


Baptism is a symbol, a recognition, a claiming, sacramentally and momentarily, of a much bigger and pervading and lasting phenomenon, which is that when you come to church there is something asked of you, there is something learned, and something received.

It's similar in the Eucharist, where there is something received, a truth confronted, and my me-ness eroded a bit in proximity to your you-ness. Our sacraments, in a moment, in an act, in a little bit of tangible stuff implicate us in much bigger truths about what we are doing here.


If the apple was, for Eve and for Adam, an accidental wandering into the mind of God, then baptism is our asking for it. We say that the Holy Spirit is received in baptism, well, that then is the indwelling of the mind of God in us. And what big truths it has to show us:

Among the things the Spirit inscribes in us:

There is a body of Christ and you have a place in it.

There is a body of Christ and everybody you encounter has a place in it, friend and foe alike.

There is a world as it should be and look how very far away from it we are.

Can't you see how toppled the very idea of human dignity is in our society--


To be confronted with these things, for the first time, for a second time, for a hundredth, to be confronted with these truths as the Holy Spirit resting over top of me, I would probably be driven into the wilderness too. To be confronted with the mind of God and to still have to live in the body of a person, in a broken community of ineffectual loves albeit earnest efforts, would drive anybody into the wilderness for a spell, I think. And I imagine we mostly all know what it feels like


As Christians, as Episcopalians, as tender-hearted civically minded members of this community, and this country, and this world, It is hard to know the things that we know and to believe the things we believe and to exist in this world without giving in to the temptations of the world to ease our ill-at-easeness. And imagine all the more difficulty for somebody like Jesus, for whom the taking on of the mind of God was a bit of a formality, or the reception of the Holy Spirit more a greeting of an old friend, imagine all the more difficulty for Jesus -- who knows what we think we know but knows it perfectly, to not be driven off into the wilderness for a bit of a breather and to screw his head back on.


This morning we talked about how the Wilderness of a season like Lent is not just mandated unhappiness. But perhaps it's more aptly termed the tension of the dissonance between what we know about God, and what we see out in the world. And the disciplines against temptations are about building up a constitution for enduring that dissonance.


Mark 1:9-15

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

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