"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.
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 (NRSV)
15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah.
16 John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." ...
21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened
22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."