Homily The Baptism of the Lord

Homily (Sermon) – Baptism

The Readings for The Baptism of the Lord
Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Psalm 28
Acts 10:34-38
Matthew 3:13-17
[ All these readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

When was the last time you were at a baptism? Was it recently, can you remember what happened? Was it a long time ago, are you sitting there thinking I honestly can’t remember. Was it your own baptism? Can you remember it or were you just a baby?

The last baptism I went to was here only four weeks ago. She was a little baby only a few months old. Her name was Lily May. It was a wonderful occasion, lots of happy people, lots of joy. Very Christian!

Baptism is a Sacrament, it's the first sacrament a Christian can receive as it is the sacrament that welcomes the new Christian into the Christian family.

Sacraments are very special moments, they are points where heaven and earth touch. Where Gods full glory flows over us, where we can encounter our God and creator.

We have just heard Mathew describing the baptism of Jesus. Jesus standing in the water, heaven opening and the holy spirit, in the form of a dove, descending on Jesus.

That same thing is what exactly what happened at Lily-May’s baptism. I poured water over Lily-May’s head, I said the words “Lily May, I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

She shared that moment being held above our font with Christ as He stood in the Jordan. God was please and the holy spirit came to live in Lily May.

The baptism freed Lily May from sin. It's not a magical spell that means she will never be naughty again. But the gift of God's grace, a grace that will, through her whole life strengthen her to resist the bad things God hates and to do the good things God loves. Because of her baptism the Holy Spirit will live with her, and support her all her Christian life.

In December Lily May became a member of our Church, part of the body of Christ, part of our family, a family of over a billion Christians all taking their place and loving and serving their God and all those around them. You may never have met Lily May but she is your sister now, and I ask you to pray for her, her parents and God parents.

Baptism contains some of the richest signs and symbols of our faith.

First there is water, it represents purity, the washing away of sins. But the word baptism means plunging, the immersion in water. This descent into the water and return to the air, is the journey we share with Christ, as he died on the cross, descended into hell, defeated death and rose again to eternal life. Because baptism is sacramental, Lily May really shared that journey and that victory.

The white clothes are an unstained outward sign of Christian dignity. We wear white at Baptism, we also wear white at first communion, confirmation, weddings, father and I wear white robes to serve here at the alter, and we will cover the coffin at a funeral with a white pall. Baptism and death are linked; both are the start of a Christian life. Baptism in this life, death is the start of our eternal life with Christ.

Another symbol is light, for Baptisms we light the Pascal candle, the candle we first lit on Easter Sunday. It signifies the light of Christ returning to the world, and during the Baptism we light a candle from the Pascal candle, so that the newly baptised may always walk in the light of Christ.

We also use oils for anointing, just as priests and kings are anointed with oils at their ordination or coronation. Lily May was welcomed as an adopted daughter of God the Father and sister to Christ, part of the royal priesthood, that is our Christian family.

The greatest joy at a baptism is knowing that anyone and everyone can be welcomed into Gods family at Baptism. Cornelius said it well in Acts when he said, “The truth I have now come to realise is that God does not have favourites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him.”

The one odd thing about our Gospel today is that it’s Christ who is Baptised. There has only been one man who didn’t need the gifts of baptism, and that was Christ. John realised this as well and tried to dissuade Jesus. What John missed and that Christ knew was that the Baptism was for us. That moment in the Jorden has been shared billions of times, each of us at our baptism was also with Christ in the Jorden.

Baptism is a gift, it’s a joy, it’s a moment shared with Christ that enables us to live a life filled with Christ’s joy. You, all of you, are brothers and sister of Jesus. Go out into the world and share that joy.

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