The Jordan River provided the backdrop for the Holy Spirit showing up yesterday and today.
Yesterday, we visited the region where John the Baptist most likely preached his message of repentance in the wilderness. As the Gospels tell us, people came in number to listen to John as the wilderness was often where prophets would go to preach the message Israel did not want to hear, but needed to hear.
At the Jordan River today, Israel and Jordan – the modern nations – have worked together to make a part of the river accessible to pilgrims and tourists. The river is the border between the two countries and together they have worked to clear landmines, tear down fences, and get rid of barbed wire for people of faith to come, see, celebrate, and remember. It is a modern example of swords being beaten into plowshares, and what makes it even more interesting is to see the churches built on both sides of the border. The church is helping create a sliver of peace in a land once marked by violence.
The second Jordan River moment happenned today as we celebrated baptisms in the river. Our group rejoiced as many made decisions of faith, and the Spirit showed up!
What added to the joy were the hundreds, if not thousands, of others who were also there. Languages, ethnicities, nations, continents, church traditions, economic classes…were all on display and groups cheered for one another as people came out of the water celebrating their faith. While I do not know what heaven will look like, I pray it looks like what I saw today. It is a vision I want to hold and not let fade.
When I have days like today I hear Jesus say the following – Make sure what matters to you matters to me. That statement leads to an instant confession – that is another blog – which then creates a little glimpse of what matters to Jesus. This is it – that we love God and each other. This is the conversation we are to have. Nothing else will ever rival it in importance.
Matthew 22:36-40 records a conversation very similar to the one Jesus and I had today.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Make sure what matters to you matters to Jesus. There is too much at stake for our priorities to be off. It is a message the Jordan River remembers and still preaches.