First United Church of Christ
611 Columbia Street, Burlington, IA 52601

MATTHEW 3:13-17
When Jesus had been baptized...suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw God's Spirit descending like a dove and alighting on him.  And a voice from the heavens said,  "this is my Son, the Beloved, with who I am will pleased."  Matthew 3:16-17

My childhood church emphasized doing things for God--active service through mission trips, collecting food, giving money, and faithfully attending church.  There was a motion that God was pleased by activity.  The busier we were, the happier God was.  God annouces that God is well pleased with Jesus before he ever does anything.  God is pleased with Jesus just as he is.  It's a shocking idea for people in North America, where many measure worth by money, fancy cars, and accomplishments.  Work is good.  More work is better.  For me, the slower pace during the COVID-19 pandemic reset some of my unhealthy idea.  Still, it's hard to shake them. Is God as well-pleased with me when I take a nap as when I'm working?  I have to imagine so.  I'm baptized into the family of faith in the tradition of Jesus.  The only thing getting in the way of my perceived value to God is me. 
Mary E. Austin, Gaithersburg, Maryland
These Days, January 2023