By Greg Jones
I would like to think that if I had lived in Jerusalem in the Anno Domini 20s, I'd have gone out to see John the Baptist in the Wilderness, for baptism and the forgiveness of sin. I'd like to think I'd have known I needed that repentance, that cleansing, that forgiveness. What about you? Wouldn't you like to think you'd be in that number; gone to see the Baptist in the desert; gone to wash away old ways and take on new ones?
Despite the popularity of the old book, I'm OK, You're OK -- I don't believe that. I am not O.K. And neither are you. Not on our own. Not as we are. Not without the Grace of God. As Mark explains in the first verses of the first chapter of the first Gospel -- the beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ for all people happens when Grace works within us, making way for God's mercy to get through.
I'm referring to John's 'baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.' If you do a hyper literal translation of the Greek text of Mark 1:4, it says John announced "immersion of mind change." Immersion of mind change. John the Baptist says the way to wholeness in God's Kingdom, for salvation of body, mind and soul, requires an immersion of mind change, to put off sin and death.
When we submerge our life in God's, when we turn away from self-love and go toward God's love, that's when we become disciples. Have you taken that plunge yet? To seek a new life God's river? The call to take this plunge begins with baptism, but importantly extends to everyday renewal of the full baptismal covenant, with its affirmations about the Faith and the Mission of the Faithful.
The Rev. Samuel Gregory Jones ('Greg') is rector of St. Michael's in Raleigh, N.C. and the bass player in indie-rock band The Balsa Gliders - whose fourth studio release is available on iTunes. He blogs at fatherjones.com.