A Letter from the Executive Director
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John tried to prevent him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?’ Jesus said to him in reply, ‘Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed him. After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened [for him], and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove [and] coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’ – Matthew 3:13-17
Just before Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness – a story that helps us begin the Lenten journey – He chooses to be baptized. That act is important now, in the context of the coronavirus outbreak, because it offers us an example of how to have some control in a time of uncertainty.
In being baptized by John, as many others are doing, Jesus is choosing to share life with the Judean people. He is identifying himself with them – and us. He is accepting a path that engages struggle, questions, and an unknown future. The fully human and fully divine Jesus is choosing to affirm His full humanity. And He knows that what comes next will be hard.
CVN member programs know firsthand the struggle volunteers and communities are facing because of the coronavirus. How you choose to engage with them – and yourself – is important. That requires understanding what they need, what you need, and what you offer. How you focus and act will impact the rest of the story, just as Jesus’ decision shaped the rest of His and our story.
You have already chosen to be with others and support human needs. Now, we must discern what else that requires of us. We cannot control much about the coronavirus, but we can control how we direct our gifts and resources. That requires us to find the right balance between trusting God and acting strategically.
I heard a speaker recently say that walking the Camino in Spain offers a chance to focus on different challenges. Separate segments of that journey focus on different needs – and offer pilgrims a chance to prepare for those. One part represents physical challenge; another mental/emotional challenge; and the last spiritual challenge. This resonates with me because this time will challenge us in all these ways. But by naming them (and others) we can limit their power over us; reduce some uncertainty about where we are and what we need; allow ourselves to approach the journey more effectively.
The invitation is to reflect on Jesus’ witness during His baptism and wilderness experience. He chose to fully engage humanity, Himself, and the Father. And then, with the affirmation and focus he gained, He stepped into the messiness of life to serve and lead – and learn more about His calling.
We have some control. We can say ‘yes’ to the baptismal call to become who we are, with others, in times of great challenge. If any community of people is prepared to do that, it is this one. You already witness so well. You change lives in more ways than you know. Because of that, you are better equipped to thrive during uncertainty than you may think.
May you have what you need to choose well. May you ask for help when you don’t. May you continue to serve and lead in communities that have never been predictable.