The Baptism of our Lord 2017

Sermon Title: THE BAPTISM OF OUR LORD
Date: 8th January 2017
Preacher: Rev’d Susanne Chambers
Church Calendar Date:
Lectionary Reading: Isaiah 42:1-9, Psalm 29, Acts 10:34-43, Matthew 3:13-17

I was reading a reflection on a man who was at a baptism of a young baby, named Amy! It was such an interesting reflection I thought I’d share it with you all.

“I have been told there are theological and pastoral debates about infant baptism. Just what are we about to do? How can Amy participate in this ritual when she sleeps more than any of us, and we are praying – even the priest is praying, especially the priest is praying – that she sleeps through this ceremony? Wouldn’t it be better to wait until she was older and could choose for herself? Perhaps in the tumult of adolescence she would muster enough inner strength to commit herself to Christ? Shouldn’t all sacraments be consciously participated in?

I don’t know what to think.  There is always attraction in the adult drama of individual choice, of someone gathering up their life and committing it to a larger purpose. But there is something mystical about our gathering around this still embryonic person, about her need for us and our passion to attend to her. Perhaps this type of baptism is not about individuals coming to decision but about persons-in-relationship? Perhaps this ritual is grounded in inter-being, in our mutual, mystical indwelling in one another? Although it looks like we are separate – different bodies at different stages of the journey – it is always Amy and us.  She is the centre because her infant state reveals this hidden network of intimacy.  Didn’t Jesus say, “I am in you, you are in me, and we all are in the Father”? Or words to that effect. Perhaps infant baptism is the unveiling of interdependency, the antidote to the isolation of sin?” [i]

End of quote.  I did like the thought that this type of baptism is not about individuals coming to a decision but about persons-in-relationship. So when we think back over our baptisms, most of us were babies, brought to the church by our parents and god parents who loved us. Persons-in-relationship!

I would like you all to call out your first name. The name that when you were baptised, the priest asked ‘name this child?’ … Names called out!

Lots of different names… great names!  Some of you might have nick names that you may like or not… but said with love, they say something about a close relationship you have with whoever gave you the nick name. There are also names we are not so happy about… like you all know not to call me Susan! J

We have also been given a name and an identity when we were baptised… no, not your first name, but instead ‘Beloved’… beloved.

Our primary identity is being a ‘child of God’ and in baptism God names us as ‘beloved’.

There are lots of name tags that people may put on us: feminist, liberal, conservative, gay, straight, rich, poor, fatty, skinny… lots of names that people would like to define us and maybe we do that as well.

The bottom line though is to remember that we are God’s beloved children and hopefully cope then with the names and identities that others may put on us.

Baptism is important because it tells us who we are by reminding us whose we are: God’s beloved child.

I hope you realise that you already are beloved children of God, even if you haven’t been baptised.  For us Christians, baptism, this public ritual, helps young Sadie and each of us over time to realise that this is true. That we are  beloved children of God.

And we have our parents, godparents, close friends, our church community, who help us to realise this is true. Of course, our main guide is Jesus whom God sent to help us know about love through persons-in-relationship.

Jesus is our guide in life, and not a blind guide because he understands very well the struggles we go through to live in love and not hate, prejudice and all the ‘isms’… “He is therefore a seeing guide leading the blurred”.

Jesus wants us to be awakened to love.  I recently watched ‘Avatar’ again, and the lovely moment when the two main characters said to each other “I see you”… which was so much more than the physical. It was about seeing love in each other and in themselves.

Today we will witness young Sadie being baptised. Affirmed as a child of God and we are encouraged to awaken our baptism, not just by saying the Creed or any other words, but to ‘know’… take the risk to love and know you are loved.

That’s what it’s all about!

The Lord be with you.

 

 

 

 

[i] Following Love into Mystery-The spiritual Wisdom of the Gospels for Christian Preachers and Teachers by John Shea page67