9 About that time, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 While he was coming up out of the water, Jesus saw heaven splitting open and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down on him. 11 And there was a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.” 12 At once the Spirit forced Jesus out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among the wild animals, and the angels took care of him.14 After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee announcing God’s good news, 15 saying, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!”
Mark 1:9-15 CEB
Bec Cranford-Smith, M.Div.
Christ came up from the waters. His first words heard echoed in his ear. “You are my son, the beloved.” Right after that experience, the Spirit pushed him into a desolate place to be tempted. He left every temptation to rethink his identity behind, successfully emerged from the time and spread the Good news. In 2011, I left Springfield, Missouri to reach out to my neighbors who were marginalized in Atlanta, after wrestling with God about coming back to Georgia. I had forgiven my culture, context, and heritage and most of all, my Dad. Then when I got to Georgia the inquisition started. It was rumored I was "accepting of sin" and a Christian Universalist. I got blacklisted in one denomination, and told I could no longer minister. I did not know how much my identity was tied up in that denomination. Stuff got real sucky. I wasn’t successful. I was starving. Waiting tables sometimes bringing home $7 a night, feeling abandoned by my church home and former denomination, I sank into a deep depression. I decided to believe the negative self-speak. I crawled into the bathtub with a razor blade. My house had been a refuge for lots of gay folks and freaks. And we always cared for the stranger. I had friends, but I felt exiled as a progressive mystic. Something happened in the bathtub. I remembered I was the beloved. I got up, went into Atlanta and recalled that I was there to love-not start a mega church or be famous or be a denomination’s poster child.
I was tempted to rethink my identity. We are children of God; We are the beloved. This is our identity. We may be tempted to be powerful, to manipulate, or to measure up to Hollywood’s ideas of success. We will hear a constant barrage of temptations to do more, prove we are somehow gifted, climb the ladder of our success, or build our own kingdom. We don’t have to give into those things. Our sole identity in Christ is the Beloved.
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Creator- Help me to recall that I am Yours. Your child. Your beloved. This is who I am. Not what others think, or even what my own inner critic says. Help me daily to recall, I am the beloved. Amen.
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Bec is the volunteer coordinator for Gateway Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to end homelessness in Metro-Atlanta through therapeutic programs and community collaboration. She is the minister of the Church of the Misfits, a safe place for spiritual tourists to rest a while. She considers herself an advocate of the Marginalized in Atlanta, lover of whores and drunkards, and a Bapticostal Misfit.