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January 10, 2016

The good news for the day (the baptism of Jesus)

The public was filled with expectation, and everybody in their hearts were asking whether John might be the Messiah. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but someone more important than I am is coming, someone whose shoestring I am not worthy to loosen. He will be baptizing you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Luke 3, 15-16)

Once you accept the language as truthful poetry, as profound, this baptism with the “holy spirit” and “fire” becomes meaningful to you.

Baptism meant Immersion. Yes, we have cheapened the rite into a pouring or sprinkling of water—but that misses the point. Hold onto that picture of immersion. You drown and get CPR to come back to life. You breathe again—you have a “new” spirit—attitude, outlook, courage, and stance.

To be baptized into that understanding, you become saved from “spiritual” death-a newborn person! It snapshots your new reality! If you are sunk underwater, you cannot breathe “spirit-breath”—you become separated from life in any form. Nor do you have body warmth—the “heat” or fire of life. You are a corpse. You die. You start over. Like a newborn baby, you take a new “breath”—not so much by the rite, but by the reality.

These words, though fail to convey that reality—your new life, your being a fresh-alive-always person. Jesus, having died and risen, now gives you life-from-inside. His Spirit animates your core, his permanence of love and appreciation defines your eternity, and his Life becomes your sharing in divinity. You have become a very real “child of God,” changed not in just this or that belief or morality, but changed fundamentally—your blind eyes open, your ears start to listen, your heart stops being stone. You have received Good News. You are ALIVE—in every breath/spirit, and on fire from the inside.

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