Opening of heaven

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

Luke's gospel is the only one who gives us the baptism of Jesus in this way. One thing is that it is done in a group, another is the heavens open and everyone hears the proclamation from God about this being his son, God's beloved. I wonder if the heavens opening was like what the Celtic tradition called thin places, places where heaven and earth are thin enough to touch and sacred things happen here. A place where you know you have had a holy encounter. A place where God breaks into thru world and the people are expecting it.

Do we really expect an encounter like that? An encounter with the holy that knocks us off our feet. An encounter which can happen in so many different ways, in our everyday lives. Do we really expect to run into the sacred around us, for God to break in to our lives? These places are shrouded in mystery. Its like going to Bible Point in the woods as a child. This is a place where Theodore Roosevelt visited and would read his bible. The journey took us the better part of a day in the canoe and some walking as my father would shoot the rapids and we could not. Maybe part of the mystery was the journey itself. We never saw dad shoot the rapids, we just walked through the woods to meet him down further. I can recall the walk, my father talking to creatures along the way, a beaver with his paddle, a moose with his mooing grunt. We journeyed deeper and deeper into the wilderness. Up the brook, into the river, into the lake. At the end awaited lunch, signing the book in a special place mounted on a tree, and being silent. Sacred space.

Expectation has a lot to do with the place. We expected a long rough haul, we expected nourishment, we expected to do something -quiet, reading, something holy- when we got to the site and the expectation traveled with us. Traveled as my father would point out different animals and talk to them, in the leaving off of one another for dad to do something he could only do alone safely and we walking expecting to see him a little later on, in signing our names in a book. All of these such simple things, everyday for our time in Haynesville, but different from our everyday lives. A thin space because we couldn't come out of our wilderness retreat to go to church. Mystery in every leg of the journey. Expectation of something different and our worship at the end.

We repeat and renew our baptismal vows in this church at many different services. When we baptize, during holy week at the vigil as we remember other times when the people of faith passed through the waters, at an ordination, when we come together as a church and people with a new rector and every time we do it I expect something wonderful. When I watched the new presiding bishop be installed that is the part I remember most, sprinkling the crowd with the waters, holy space.

See mystery and expectation are not things I can pass on easily to you. It is a journey of our own hearts to be open and recognize those times when we are most attuned to sacred space, or the holy all around us. God's mystery is just that and we can hear it, see it, smell it, taste it if we are aware. It  doesn't always come in the rending of the heavens, but in the rending of our hearts. It is an inner journey only we can make. The big mistake is in saying it doesn't exist, that there is no place where one encounters this or we start to judge where it can and cannot be. It is in the opening of our hearts and minds where God's mystery blooms. Can you become aware of the divine mystery?