Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 (NRSV)
Verse 15As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, Verse 16John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Verse 17His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
Verse 21Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, Verse 22and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."
The heaven was opened, we hear. Jesus is baptized, and the heavens open. It's a particular promise with cosmic effects. And so it is for us. The promise of baptism is an intimate word of love, forgiveness and belonging. Just for you. Just for me. And yet, as we hear in our baptismal liturgy, we hope and trust that this intimate word will lead us into lives of justice and peace, lives through which we will "care for others and the world God made" (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, page 228). It's a particular promise with a cosmic call.
We are baptized, and the heavens open — every day. Every day the world opens. It becomes more free for us and for our neighbors, as we are freed from all that binds us — from not being good enough, smart enough, thin enough, wealthy enough. You are God's son. God's daughter. God's child. With you God is well pleased. Now step out in freedom and love. The heavens are open to you and for you.
Gracious God, walk with me in the expanse of your world. Remind me that your promise is for me and for the whole world. Amen.