Reflection for Clippesby 31-1-19
Readings: Isaiah 43:1-7 / Luke 3: 15-17, 21-22
Remember your baptism
Do you remember your baptism? Most people here have probably been baptised and the majority as babies so asking whether you remember that is a bit of a strange question. But whilst you may not remember the event of your baptism the question is do you remember that you are baptised?
In the Old Testament Reading we have God making a promise to the people of Israel. In fact, he is reiterating what he has already promised to them: That they will be his people and he will be their God. He’s also setting out in more depth what that looks like. He reminds them that he is their creator, that he will lead them through water and fire without harm. This is, at least in part, recalling the Exodus where God has already led the people through the waters of the Red Sea out of Egypt and then eventually through the River Jordan into the promised land. He tells them how precious and honoured and loved they are. He promises to gather them and he tells them not to fear.
By the time we get to our Gospel, John the Baptist has already wondered whether the people of Israel have forgotten this. There he is, standing in the River Jordan, calling people to baptism, to pass through the waters into the promised land. But just before our reading he calls the crowd a Brood of vipers and challenges them that if they do not act as the people of God then God will raise up a new people from the rocks. Hearing him, the people ask their questions and John responds as to how they should live and he tells them of a saviour who is to follow him. Many come to be baptised.
Amongst them is Jesus. Jesus who we learnt at Christmas has come to share our humanity, to be our brother. When we follow him instead of our death, we get his life. Instead of simply having earthly parents we get God as our Father. Instead of a baptism of water, as John was offering, we get a baptism of the Holy Spirit and of fire.
When we are baptised we are baptised into a new life in Christ. We may not remember the event but we need to remember that fact because it makes a difference. Imagine if when you were baptised the vicar gave your parents a cheque for a million pounds along with the baptism certificate. We would think it extremely odd if they just kept that cheque in a drawer as a memento of the day and didn’t choose to pay it into the bank or use any of the money. If our baptism is just a family memory instead of a living reality we have effectively done the same thing. The good news is that the offer of that metaphorical cheque, the offer of Grace never goes away. We can come back to God, we can remember our baptism and every time be met with the same generous gift.
It means that when we hear the words of Isaiah saying:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”
“You are precious in my sight, and honoured, and I love you.”
Then we can hear those words as addressed to us, because we belong to God’s people.
It also means that when we hear the voice of God saying to Jesus:
“You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased”
Then we can hear those words as being addressed to us. We are God’s children and he loves us.
When did you last reflect on how much God loves you? When did you last think that the all-powerful God, creator of all that we can see and all that we can’t, knows you and loves you? When did you last remember your baptism and all that it means?