I have been so focused recently on my anti-racism work and learning and growing in that regard, that I have neglected my writing about God’s grace and love. But this week it was brought home to me again in my favorite book-ended passages.

For those of us in congregations that follow the revised standard lectionary, we heard the gospel reading about the Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-9). On this last Sunday of Epiphany, we heard God speak from a cloud saying to Peter, James, and John, “This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him.” These words form bookends with the gospel reading from the first Sunday of Epiphany when we hear the gospel story of Jesus’ baptism and again God speaks from a cloud, “You are my Son, the beloved, with you I am well pleased.”

In speaking these words, heaven declares and confirms Jesus divinity, his relationship to the Father, his chosen status. We cannot miss what these events say about who Jesus is and why we follow him.

I also believe our Heavenly Father says these same words to us at our baptism, “You are my child, my beloved, with you I am well pleased.” Because those words are spoken at our baptism, they are also spoken to us each day as we walk in our baptism through the ups and downs of life. God says to you, each morning, as your feet hit the floor, “YOU are MY CHILD, MY BELOVED, with YOU I AM WELL PLEASED.” That’s who God is. A God who loves, a God who makes us His children, a God who forgives and is well-pleased regardless of what we have done or what has been done to us. And that, my friends, is grace. God loving us, making us His children. God calling us by name. This is the center of our faith, God giving us Himself, in Jesus, that we might have life and have it abundantly.

So today, I pray you might soak that up. I pray that you might hear these words spoken to you directly from God our Father, “YOU are MY CHILD, MY BELOVED, with YOU I AM WELL PLEASED.”

God bless,