March 10th is my baptismal anniversary. This year, it fell on a Sunday – the first Sunday of Lent. I happened to be preaching that Sunday and like many of you, the text was the Temptation of Jesus in the wilderness…an event that came immediately after Jesus’s own baptism.

In the sermon, and in my own reflections, I wondered about identity – Jesus’s identity as God’s Beloved, and our identity as God’s Beloveds – and how it informs our lives, our work, our ministry. I wonder for me, for you, for us – what are the ways that our identities as God’s Beloved are challenged? How do we stand firm in the knowledge that God loves us, and that God cherishes us without having to pass any litmus tests?

And probably an even harder question: What are the ways that we ask others to ‘prove’ their own identity? In what ways do put up barriers to entry and inclusion in our communities and in our lives? What litmus tests do we ask others to pass before we deem them worthy of God’s love and our regard?

This work of being a disciple of Jesus is not for the faint of heart. We are often called into places where the marginalized are being oppressed or silenced or forgotten and we are called to stand with them, center their voices and experiences and support their work. It can be humbling and scary and often I feel ill-equipped, but I give thanks for the siblings in faith and the work of justice that accompany and lead the way. And I rejoice in my never-ending identity as God’s Beloved, loved and cherished, forgiven and sent.