…. With the help of God, we will.

RAMBLING RECTOR

A reflection on the Sunday bible readings

 

 

SUNDAY 10 January 2021   BAPTISM OF CHRIST

 

Acts chapter 19 verses 1 to 7

1 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the inland regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. 2He said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?’ They replied, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ 3Then he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ They answered, ‘Into John’s baptism.’4Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.’5On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied—7altogether there were about twelve of them.

 

Mark Chapter 1 verses 4 to 11
4John the baptiser appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’ 9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

 

Reflection

For me, one of the sadnesses of this last year has been the postponement of baptisms. By careful planning we managed to fit one in, but I’ve missed doing them!

 

In the Church of England, infant baptisms are a time when the child’s family and family friends come together to mark the welcome of this child into the wider family of the Christian Church.  This is approached with varying amounts of understanding, and so in preparing a couple who are having their little one baptised, I always use the words that will be said during the service itself, and we talk together about what those words might mean. For example, in the section of the service when the baby is ‘presented’ to the congregation, I say the words… In baptism, these children begin their journey in faith. You speak for them, today. Will you care for them and help them to take their place within the life and worship of Christ’s Church?

And the Parents and Godparents respond together…. With the help of God, we will.

 

In reflecting on these words, I want the parents and godparents to understand that this moment of baptism is very clearly the BEGINNING of something, something to be both lived out and worked at, just as the vows made on a couple’s wedding day are the beginning of a marriage that will last a lifetime. The child is baptised INTO something, so it is part of a journey of faith, not its final destination.

 

For Jesus, the moment of baptism by John in the Jordan, recorded by Mark, reveals the unity of love between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is the beginning of his ministry, a ministry that will be lived out in practical compassion and in sacrifice yet will reach out beyond time and space into eternity.

 

Sometimes the child protests loudly at the drenching with water, sometimes the child occupies themselves with tugging at my earrings. Either way, as I dry the baby off after the baptism at the font, I speak the words which to me seem to speak to the whole of the future that awaits this child…

May God, who has received you by baptism into his Church, pour upon you the riches of his grace, that within the company of Christ’s pilgrim people you may daily be renewed by his anointing Spirit, and come to the inheritance of the saints in glory.  Amen


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