What did you hear, what did you see over the last few weeks? Looking around the place, everything seems to be back to normal. There is a certain emptiness, something is missing. Is it the absence of the Christmas tree and decorations, or the dimness of town and country as the lights blazing since the end of November are turned off? The first weeks of the new year always seem a little devoid of the colour the concluding weeks of the old seem to offer. Christmas is as far away as ever, or is it?
The Baptism of the Lord is the third manifestation of Christ in so many weeks. The first of course was at the Nativity when the Word was made flesh and made his dwelling among us. The second was last Sunday at Epiphany when all nations saw his understated glory. Today’s feast day takes place as everything goes back to normal. Unlike the other two, this manifestation takes place in the middle of the world where everyone can see. The bank of the Jordon heaved with people. Christ moves in unnoticed. After all they were all there to see John, not his cousin. The Christ is here and no one except the very few even notice.
Christ’s presence in our world is no different. Christmas is now a distant memory. It seems the Incarnation can be put back in the box with crib for another year. Today reminds us that this is far from how it is. The presence of the Lord is as real now was it was when we sang ‘Silent Night’. It was always difficult to see the Lord, even when he walked among us in the flesh. Not everyone can see, not everyone wants to see. But those of us who have come to know the Lord can see and we know that he walks beside us. The decorations are gone, the living presence of Christ can never be put away. We have heard the voice; like John our call is to point out the Lamb of God to a world that longs for him.
(SC, originally published in Intercom, Dec. 2012)