Sometimes when we are driving places as a family, the four of us will be talking in the car. My husband and I usually ride in the front seats and our daughters are in the back. As we drive, we’ll be talking away, assuming everyone is involved in the conversation. Until we ask one of our kids a question. Then there is a long silence.
Turns out somewhere along the way one or maybe both have put their ear buds in and tuned us out. So, I’ll wave my arm above my head to let them know we want to talk to them. If the have their eyes closed or are engrossed in texting, I'll have to tap one of them on the leg to get their attention.
In the story of Jesus’ baptism in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is baptized by John in the Jordan. As he comes up out of the waters of baptism. He sees the heavens torn apart, the Spirit descending upon him like a dove and he hears the voice of God.
God tears open the heavens and plunges to the earth. This is more than a leaf falling slowly from a tree or a sunbeam stretching from sky to earth. The language implies that it’s a tearing or ripping apart of the cosmic order as the Holy Spirit plunges toward Jesus. Something big is happening. Something new.
We see heaven and Earth intersect as Jesus feels the hands of John guiding him in the river and hears the voice of God from heaven. He’s dripping with water from the earth and overcome with the Spirit from above. He is John’s cousin and God’s Son.
God and John the Baptist join together in this event of baptism to create something new. God is moving heaven and Earth in Jesus’ baptism. Bringing them closer together.
Jesus experiences the power of God and hears the voice of heaven saying, “You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.”
The odd thing about this passage is that Jesus has this dramatic baptism and nobody seems to notice. Not one person trembles as the heavens tear open. No angels say, “Do not be afraid.” People don’t suddenly worship Jesus or ask where the dove came from. In this story, it's pretty much business as usual on the riverbank for everyone except Jesus.
How often are we like kids in the backseat or the people on that riverbank? Do we miss the big stuff that God is doing in the world? How often is God opening the heavens and calling to us and we miss it? We close ourselves off with our work or volunteerism or one preoccupation or another and there is God in Christ, trying to get our attention.
God is moving heaven and earth for you, saying, You are my beloved. Take out your ear buds for a moment and listen for it. I'm confident that you will hear it.