Matthew 3:13-17—Christmas Letters and a New Identity

Matthew 3:13–17 (NIV84)

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

A couple of days ago, a friend of mine wrote a post for her blog, summarizing 2016. “2016 sucked,” she said. “In early 2016, I broke me knee, and all the awesome things I wanted to do, I didn’t get to do.” I’m summarizing a bit, but that was the gist of it. She’s goes on to comment about all the Christmas cards she’s getting and how all of them look much more impressive and spectacular than her year.

Which got me to thinking: These Christmas cards that we make and send are a lot like a paper version of Facebook. They’re these carefully crafted and curated windows into our lives. Time is spent picking the right pictures and right moments to include in this little piece of paper we send to a select group of family and friends. And we actually spend money … on stamps to send it to them.

Now, I like getting these cards and so does my friend, but it also strikes me how they can warp my sense of identity. “Wow, they did that! They’re having another kid! They’re getting married!” It makes me reevaluate what I include in our letter, because shouldn’t I also include the picture of me at dinner with my wife and uncle when I learn that the startup she’s working for is scaling back or all the hard conversations we’ve had this year about deep, weighty topics?

And that’s when I think about this other picture of my identity–the picture that’s spoken on me in baptism: This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” It’s kind of hard to believe. But unlike all the pictures and posts, this is an identity I can actually take to the bank. Jesus died for me.

Makes me wonder what would it look like for me to include that picture in our 2017 Christmas letter?