About 10 years ago I was teaching karate (yes, really) when my heart started racing. It would not stop. It literally went on for hours. I was the only instructor at the school at the time so I just continued to do what I was doing. Immediately upon turning out the lights and locking the doors, I went to the emergency room. I was admitted, monitored, and given a barrage of tests. Because of an anomaly on my stress test (I mean, who wouldn’t be stressed at this point?), I had to have a cardiac catheterization. I was so nervous. Prior to being a youth minister I used to be a respiratory therapist. Any time I had to go to the cardiac cath lab it was because someone was having a cardiac arrest. Even though that was years ago and technology has advanced, I still thought I was going to die!
So as I was waiting in my thin little gown that opens in the back and my thin little blanket on my very uncomfortable bed where it seemed like time was standing still, I began to write to my family. I told them how much I loved them and how each one was amazing and had so much to offer the world. I must have fallen asleep because I had a dream. I dreamt that I died and went to heaven (good so far?). There was God waiting for me. In my dream God had a bit of an attitude because he was standing with His arms folded. I immediately dropped to my knees. He looked at me expectantly. So I gave Him a silver tray. Like, a REAL silver tray, NOT the kind that you would find at my house. And on my tray I wanted to put the best things that I had done with my life. Hmm. Well, I try to be a good wife, mother, daughter, sister and aunt. I am not always and I do apologize when I am not, so that went on my tray. Then I thought, well, I left a great job in health care (I had made it up to being a Department Head) to be a youth minister, so that should go on my tray. Lastly I thought about how I travel and speak to youth and adults all over the country, so that should go on my tray. The more I thought about it, I realized that nothing else mattered. So I bowed my head and lifted the tray to God. He looked it over carefully, then he smiled a slow smile and said, “Well done, Jamie Dillon, c’mon in.” And with that, He began to clap. .. FOR ME!
Since that day, I have tried hard to live my life in a way that kept all that was “tray-worthy” front and center. I have also learned to live for the applause of heaven, rather than the applause of people. I mean, isn’t that the point?
In today’s, Gospel, we see Jesus be BAPTIZED! He did not need to be baptized, of course. But He was humbling Himself to give us an example. John the Baptist did not invent baptism per se. He was using something that the Jews already knew, the Mikveh. The Mikveh was a huge common bath where Jews would “cleanse” themselves spiritually. It was important to do this before entering the temple or engaging in prayer. When someone was converting to the Jewish faith they were called a proselyte. Immersion in the Mikveh was an important part of their entry into Judaism. John saw this as a way of helping his disciples signify their entry into a new life. Their temple would be the world. John did not want to baptize Jesus. He felt unworthy. Jesus assured him that this was necessary. I think that the coolest thing here is the voice. Of course it is God’s voice saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Wouldn’t you love to hear that?
Your mission is to start taking baby steps that will put you in line for the applause of heaven. Prioritize and decide what in your life is “tray-worthy”. You don’t want to just put any old thing on your silver tray! Don’t bring cheese whiz to the country club. Live your life in a way that is gourmet so that God will look at your tray and smile. Live for the applause of heaven.