Monday, February 18, 2013

Day 5 of Lent, February 18th, 2013

Today's Reading: Luke 3:15-38

The Baptism of Christ by Tintoretto, c. 1550.  Note the
pink color of the robe of Jesus.  Pink can represent
unconditional love while blue can represent piety
and sincerity.
Luke diverges in his presentation of the Baptism of Jesus in that his is the only Gospel that mentions the Holy Spirit coming in bodily form like a dove.  The others allude to the Holy Spirit coming like a dove but Luke is the only one mentioning that this is no vision but a physical manifestation.

The dove has long been a symbol of peace.  Hebrew readers would be reminded of the dove sent out by Noah.  Genesis 8:11 states, "The dove came back to him in the evening, grasping a torn olive leaf in its beak. Then Noah knew that the waters were subsiding from the earth."

The olive branch is also a sign of peace.

Early Christian theologian Tertullian mentions that the dove in Genesis symbolizes the end of God's wrath as the flood waters dried up and in the Baptism of Jesus, the dove symbolizes the peace of God descending upon the earth in Jesus Christ.

Luke's use of the physical seems to be a tangible sense of God's presence that we can touch.  We have it in Jesus as well as Luke moves from baptism into the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew and Mark move into the fasting in the wilderness and the temptation).  This list of ancestors seems to place God definitively within human history - a physical marker.

For United Methodists, baptism is a physical sign of God's grace manifest among us.  If you are baptized, do you remember yours?  If it was done when you were an infant, have you been told about it?  Who was there to celebrate it with you?

As we proceed into Lent, we are reminded of our baptismal vows.  We renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world and repent of our sin.  Sometimes we may need something physical or tangible to aid us spiritually.  Touch some water and remember your baptism!'

Picture from

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