This past week, there are many in the music world who observed the 80th birthday of Elvis Aaron Presley, the late king of Rock and Roll. I can remember when he used to do concerts. To control the crowds, they would announce, “Elvis is in the building”. No doubt, the announcement used to whip the multitude into a frenzy for the concert. And conversely, they would announce that, “Elvis has left the building.” This was done in an effort to dismiss the throngs and to keep control of the situation. Over the years there have been many famous announcers who have had catch phrases. You might not know the name of Michael Buffer, but you will certainly know the catchphrase he coined: “Let’s get ready to rumble!” if you are not familiar with this please click on this hyperlink, to learn about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44XNBpl7u2k.
The Gospel this week (Mark 1:4-11) has some similar connotations. There is an announcement that “The Son is in the building. Thank you. Thank you very much. And with him I am well pleased!” But have you considered the importance of who made the announcement?
I hope that you understand that the voice that declares Jesus’ presence notes for us that there is a God. A Father. The voice tells us that there is a mission that needs to be accomplished – to reach human souls and draw them home - and that is why the Son has been sent. And because there is a God and God has a mission, God has a church.
The experience of hearing the voice brought about different reactions from different people. But just in case it was missed, this was not a small, quiet voice. It was not an indoor voice in a frilly, lacy moment. It was a booming, shake you out of your socks roar that announced that Jesus was here among us and that God’s favour and grace rested upon him. But why all the fanfare and gusto about this one baptism when so many are being baptized?
Something important that sustained Jesus in his ministry happen in that moment – he saw the heavens open and the Spirit descending to him as he comes up out of the water. He gained insight into his relationship with his Father. His Father is watching him and is please and celebrating everything that Jesus was doing and blessing with everything that he had to offer him. What was it that Jesus doing? He was following His Father’s will. The Father was rejoicing over the fact that the Son was doing what was asked of him.
And this brings us to the bath time - John baptised Jesus in the River Jordan. The purpose of Mark – and therefore of Peter and Jesus – in sharing this story is for those who follow in this way so that they can capture a vision of what is means to be in Christ, in his death and his resurrection. It is the start of the change from what the world is to what the world is becoming in God’s grace and timing. It is also good news to those who believe because they are told that nothing can overcome God and his kingdom: not by the powers and evil nor by worldly oppressors and systemic persecutions. That is good news for a community that needs reassurance that things are going to work out, in spite of what might be the current circumstance.
This also means that we are free, not only to proclaim, but also to be handed over to suffering and death. Without being handled over to suffering, pain, disease and death there is no resurrection and new life. Therefore we must be prepared and ready for whatever it is that God calls us to and to follow wherever he is going and doing whatever it is that he is doing. After all, there is a God. And God has a mission. And because God has a mission God has the Church. What do you bring to the mission that you can offer? Jesus is in the building, what will you do next?