Scripture Reading: Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’ –Luke 21-22
The Dove has been a symbol of peace and love for centuries, not only in Christianity, but across religions. The Dove has been a symbol of the presence of God’s work among God’s people since the story of Noah. A dove was released when the rains had subsided. It returned to the Ark with an olive branch in its beak telling Noah that the waters had receded and he could leave the Ark. It later denoted the presence of God described as the Holy Spirit in the story of the Baptism of Jesus.
The presence of the Dove at Jesus’ baptism is significant as it foretells the role of this One chosen by God to bring love and peace into a world. His task was to bring about peace without the violence of the Pax Romana, the reality that Rome defined as peaceful.
This Roman view of peace is still prevalent in the world today. It is the peace that ISIS pledges, but it is not far removed from the responses desired by some in the world who wish to defeat, by any means necessary, the ISISes that have arisen throughout history.
The peace of Christ is achieved one commitment at a time. This too is symbolized in and through our baptisms. As we each strive for the wholeness of God initiated at baptism, we experience the oneness of God as we work for the peace of God that surpasses understanding. It is the only peace that can and will conquer the world.
Prayer: Grant us your peace O Lord, renew our baptismal commitment. Holy Spirit, continue enabling us as peacemakers. Amen.
All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.