We are living into a new framework for vision and mission together at Bethlehem. I come back to it several times a week because it gives me a fresh look at the Bible story or a new lens about our ministry.

Good. Very Good. Well Pleased. Content. This is the word for creation, both then and now. No ecstasy or superlatives. Simply and fully “good enough.”

Parenting section of the New York Times
Authors of “The Power of Showing Up”
Safe. Seen. Soothed. > Secure.

But are we really seeing each other? Church community resists defining you by what you do — you don’t have to make the team or practice before you show up… You show up and you are seen for who you are and whose you are. 

It’s a completely different operating system. This God’s great and timeless gift to humankind: We are declared Good. Very good. God is well pleased and content. It is spoken in the chapters of creation before we have uttered a word or taken a step. And it descends upon Jesus before a single miracle or parable. 

Jesus’ ministry begins by honoring John’s. Sure, he could have baptized himself, but he leans into good order for our sake, and models the empowerment and affirmation of another’s gifts.

It aligns with God’s reputation for collaboration and inclusion. God is not saving us from heaven’s isolation or one at a time… God is saving us in a way that gives us back to each other, that implicates us in each other’s lives and knits us together with communal memories.

They can agree that Jesus is the more powerful one, the one they’ve been waiting for, and it would make sense for Jesus to baptize John according to hierarchy and expectation. But insisting that John baptize him is Jesus’ first subversive act. In doing so, Jesus models an external word, and the collaborative power of faith in relationships with each other.

With this baptism, Jesus submits to the mission ahead and accepts solidarity with our human condition. He’s all in.

God is here in Jesus. In the absolute sense, which is different from before. Absolute abiding. 

Location matters. A first question is, “Where are you from? Where do you live?” Worthy of a place. Part of a community. Experience belonging.

  • Families Moving Forward (MTKA)
  • Beacon’s Vista 44
  • ZOOM House
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Families Moving Forward (MPLS)
  • Drake Hotel Fire

When we are flush with locations and options, showing up for our neighbors in need means moving, means stepping into a new location. For Jesus, People to Place begins in the wilderness. Exodus and his own exile to Egypt. He has been outside and hidden himself. He has come to challenge classism and imperial systems. A good way to accompany those you serve is to abide with them. But it requires that we move out of our comfort.

FMF has changed the wide community of volunteers at this campus… and our whole identity as people called to the wider places. 

Promises to Willemina:  The world will tell you the wilderness is dangerous and the darkness is scary and strangers are not to be trusted. Or that you need to behave in order to be seen and known and loved.

How do we help steward creation, even in this generation of climate crisis, so that Willemina can experience God in the wild places, in the dark places, and on the outer edges where God shows up to dwell and make things new?

Perhaps it begins by coming back to that creative word time and again. God is still saying: You are loved. You are good enough. I am content with you, even before you have lifted a finger or spoken a word.

God is still creating, still speaking pleasure about us before we have anything to show for it. Life is better when we are affirming the gifts of our neighbors and meeting each other where we are.

This is how God comes to us.

Most of you didn’t know Willemina two hours ago. But now you love her like family. And you’ve made her promises you will keep. She has a place here and that changes everything.

What a miracle. What a gift that heaven comes down and gives us back to one another.

A blessing for the baptized:
This is a blessing 
that remembers your baptism
and tells the story
even if your memory cannot. 

It watched a community 
gather around you. 
It heard the water poured 
and felt the love expand. 

This blessing will travel 
every distance with assurance 
that baptism’s promise
does not wear thin over time. 

The gift is hardy and sure. 
You could not break it if you tried. 
Life has a firm grip on you, 
Beloved One.

It is more than enough.
And so are you.