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“The Main Act” by Rachael Flanagan, Fiat Ventures

The Baptism of the Lord

Have you ever been to a concert for your favorite singer or band? There is a lot of anticipation. The anticipation starts when you find out they are coming to the area you live in. You’re so excited. You text all your friends about it and set an alarm on your phone to remind you the minute the tickets go on sale, because they’re going to go quickly. You get the tickets, you wait the excruciating weeks or months until the concert – and then the day comes. You’re there with your friends, waiting in an absurdly long line to just get in the arena or concert hall (you bring snacks because it’s going to be a while). Finally, you get to your seat – or the mosh pit if you’re daring, and the first act comes out.  They’re awesome – you’re having fun, but they aren’t Taylor Swift or whoever you’re there to see, so the anticipation keeps rising. The second act comes out. They are even better – they would be great as a main act someday, but still – they aren’t the reason you came out today with your friends.

And then the moment comes. The arena lights dim, the stage fills with theatrics and smoke, your favorite song begins vibrating through the darkness. The audience explodes into applause as a single spotlight illuminates over the main act, who has emerged from the shadows. That moment when you first lay eyes on your favorite artist in person is unforgettable. I remember being so overwhelmed when Josh Groban came out, I had to take my inhaler. (Regrettably, this is a true story). The person you’ve been waiting to see for weeks is finally there, right in front of you. If it weren’t for hundreds of people in front of you, tight security and an army of bouncers, you could even run up there and give them a hug. Your favorite musician is there in the flesh – and the show is finally happening.

The first reading this week is similarly foreshadowing. Hundreds of years BC, the prophet Isaiah announces to the Jewish people that the Messiah is coming.

He previews what he will be like: “He shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break and a smoldering wick he shall not quench.” In other words, he is going to be awesome and powerful, but he will be gentle and kind, rather than forceful and dominating. This sounded great to the Jewish people. They all got their tickets and their “I <3 Messiah” fan t-shirts, but instead of waiting a couple weeks, it was centuries until the main event. In the Gospel, we see John the Baptist opening for Jesus. People traveled from far and wide to see John the Baptist and hear him preach. They hadn’t seen anything like him before and many people wondered if this was it – the Messiah they’d been waiting for. John replies with, “You haven’t seen anything yet. Ladies and gentlemen…I give you, Jesus the CHRIIIIIIIIIIIIIST!” The smoke clears and Jesus is there, standing among the people. “Heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” The show had finally begun.

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