January 5, 2011


FBC was obsessed, for a while, with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, that old 1960's made-for-TV-stop-action-claymation special. I mean, obsessed. All day long she'd repeat over and over again "off", "off", "off" and if you weren't willing to sing the song to her, you'd better be able to start the DVD player.

And fast.

As parents do, over the course of her three-week obsession, I all but memorized the entire movie. Dialog, songs, backdrops, claymation oddities, I could probably storyboard the whole thing. There is a lot that is strange about that special, but one that is of particular interest to me this week is a moment of identity. Heremey, the ambiguously-gay-wants-to-be-a-dentist elf, pops up out of a snow drift and Rudolph asks him, "Who are you?"

Hermey answers, "Well actually, I'm a dentist."

Two things strike me about his response. First, he identifies himself not as Hermey or as an elf but by an occupation, I'm a dentist. And secondly, he isn't a dentist at all.

To the first point however, it has me wondering about identity. How do you identify yourself? Are you first a doctor, lawyer, front-desk clerk, hairdresser, or priest? Are you first a husband, wife, father, or mother? Are you first Tom, Susie, Mary, or Andy?

As Jesus comes up out of the water at his baptism, the Father gives him an identity. Speaking only to his Son (and maybe in other accounts J.Bap gets to hear it too) God says, "You are my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."

That is Jesus' identity, a beloved son who is pleasing to his father. And that, my friends, is our identity also. Even before we've done anything to deserve God's favor we are beloved by and well pleasing to the Father.

Sometimes I struggle to live into that identity. Sometimes I forget all the things that define me ahead of Associate Rector, but with God's help, I'm remembering more and more often that I too, just like you, am first and foremost a beloved child of God. That is my identity.

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