Jay's Sermon from January 10
Today we remember the Baptism of the Lord on the first Sunday after the Epiphany in the calendar of the church.
But why do we recall His Baptism each year? Why do we renew our Baptismal vows each time there is a new baptism?
Martin Luther wrote, "A truly Christian life is nothing else than a daily baptism once begun and ever to be continued." He didn’t want us to be baptized over and over, but I think Martin Luther wanted us to remember each day who we are, and whose we are, and how beloved we are.
What is it that makes Baptism special? We know it as the moment when one is welcomed into God’s family; we even call it the household of God. But what about Baptism is special or meaningful?
Here is my Top 7 list of what makes Baptism special:
►Firstly, in Isaiah 43 we read, God Created us, Redeemed us and stays with us.
God created you just as he created Jacob. He has called you by name, the name given to you at your Baptism. He has redeemed you, just like redeeming a prisoner by paying the penalty due, he redeemed you through his Son Jesus and if he would do that for you, he surely will not desert you in times of trouble. He will be with you.
►Next, God’s Spirit is in us. In Acts 8:17 we see that Peter and John laid their hands on people in Samaria and they received the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit came to the people of Samaria just as the Holy Spirit came to the 3000 gathered together on that Pentecost day following Jesus’ resurrection and just in the same way the Holy Spirit comes to each of us when we are Baptised. We have Jesus’ promise of the Spirit, the Advocate he said; the Comforter he said and the Holy Spirit is your lifelong Advocate and Comforter.
► The third reason Baptism is special is that God has changed us and forgiven us. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians 5:17 says, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”
When Baptised, we are made new, made clean, forgiven for all our sins before baptism and assured of the forgiveness of our sins after. We can be sure that we are changed and forgiven. When we do things wrong, God doesn’t leave us.
► The fourth reason is that God is pleased with us. In Luke’s Gospel we read, “when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’"
I think that that image is a spectacular one to let us know that we all are beloved by God and he is pleased with us. That’s not to say we can’t do better or do more or love more, but God is pleased with us every day we live our life.
► The fifth reason Baptism is special is that God’s Peace is a blessing. Psalm 29 verse 12 asks, “May the Lord bless his people with peace!”
Not world peace which we want and God wants also, but a peace inside; a peace of stillness; of knowing you are not alone; that regardless of what life deals you, God will be with you. Not to make you rich or to win or to get your wishes, but to let you know you are loved unconditionally. That is what we mean when we pass the Peace each Sunday. We wish that each one of us has and understands the unconditional love and peace of God.
► God’s Love is meant to be shared. There is a great passage from the book of Hebrews 10:24. “. . . let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.”
I love that phrase, ‘Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds”. How can you provoke me to be a better person? To be a better disciple of Jesus? To be a better child of God? Or how can I provoke you? Part of that comes from meeting together and encouraging one another. Think about that; becoming more of what God wants you to be by meeting together, encouraging others and being encouraged in return.
► God’s Love is Permanent
Paul writes in Romans 8:35 “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
There is nothing we can do or anyone else can do to make God stop loving us. Again: There is nothing we can do or anyone else can do to make God stop loving us. We cannot be separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!
There! That is my list of 7 things that make Baptism Special. Feel free to add your own. These are things we often forget and it is good, I think to remember that we have been given a life altering gift, an eternal gift, being marked as Christ’s own forever.
Whether we can remember our baptismal day or not is less important than whether we can remember that we too are blessed and beloved.
Isn’t it wonderful to know that you are beloved by God and that nothing can change that? That is the 8th and Bonus special thing about Baptism and being a follower of Jesus Christ: We are beloved by God and nothing can change that.
Thanks be to God, AMEN.
Rev’d Jay S. Macdonald