Psalms 38 * 119:25-48; Exodus 19:16-25; Colossians 1:15-23; Matthew 3:13-17
God being transcendent and God being imminent are highlighted for us in today's lectionary readings. In Exodus we have God instructing Moses about how and where the people are to approach the mountain on which God has descended to talk with Moses: God is setting limits around the mountain thereby keeping it holy.
In Colossians Paul tells us For in him (Jesus) all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. God has moved closer, becoming intimate with us by taking human form. God is no long transcendent on the mountain, but imminent among us.
And in Matthew today, we have the adult Jesus taking center stage, coming to John the Baptist to be baptized by him in the Jordan River. God, fully in-fleshed in the human Jesus, being baptized by his cousin, in front of Pharisees and Sadducees and the other people come to see this wild man John the Baptist. There has been a substantial amount of reflection on the reasoning behind Jesus' actions, chief among them that Jesus was cleaning the Jordan River by being baptized, he was sanctifying it for all. There are many other theological reflections but this one intrigues me. We have this God who threatens his chosen people not to come close to the mountain or they will die morphing into this human who is immersed with us in the waters of baptism, immersed in all the humanness that life can throw at us. And I think we can think of God as both of these at different times in our lives, when it suits our purposes.
And I'm intrigued that by accident of calendar, we remember Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Lesser Feasts and Fasts today: who was this pacifist preacher turned plotter to take a human life: albeit a monstrous human, who himself is killed because of his participation in that plot.
I am given to wonder today: where am I treating God as transcendent in my life and where is God imminent. Isn't God always imminent?
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer