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REMEMBER YOUR BAPTISM?

REV. JODI BARON – January 10, 2016 – 1 EPIPHANY, YEAR C: LUKE 3:15-17,21-22

“ Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’”

 

In the Name of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Good morning.

 

I’m sure you’re wondering right now, “there must be an misprint. Jen was supposed to be preaching this morning.”

 

Well, it’s not a misprint. You have me in her proxy this morning because, unfortunately, she sustained a back injury late last week and has been recovering at home. She wanted me to assure you she is on the healing path and will return to the office soon, just not yet today.

 

But do not fear! Isn’t that what the prophet Isaiah told us this morning?

 

God was speaking to his people through Isaiah in those days of a time when profound healing would take place. That promise of the eschaton, right?

 

Thus says the Lord,

he who created you, O Jacob,

he who formed you, O Israel:

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

and the flame shall not consume you.

For I am the Lord your God,

the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

 

Baptism, as we practice it in most Episcopal Churches, is somewhat of a more “practical” expression than visceral, like the waters of the Jordan likely were for Christ, when his cousin, John, baptized him.

 

Show of hands, how many of you, at your baptism, were submerged into the waters and then brought back up by the minister?

 

How many of you had a shell of water poured over your head, or sprinkles dotted on you?

 

How many of you remember your baptism?

 

Memory is a tricky thing, you see.

 

For some of us, we can say that we remember our baptisms because we were older when we made that commitment to the church, when we publically accepted our belovedness.

 

For others, that memory is deeper, it is extended to us through our loved ones who witnessed it and made promises on our behalf.

 

For us, neither one is more special or right. Because the act of baptism is a gift, no matter when it is administered. Whether you were two weeks old or 92 years old, Baptism is as much about the one being baptized as it is about the body of Christ which makes promises too. It is the primary way, our Church teaches, one enters into the mystical body of Christ. It’s, for thousands of years, the Rite by which we become woven into the DNA of Christ and thus his body, the Church.

 

And in the 1979 prayer book, the one we get our liturgies from today, the theology of our church makes a shift, of sorts, in how we see this sacrament.

 

It took the sacrament of baptism out of the privacy of the family unit and extended it to a public declaration and incorporation, thus restoring the more ancient understanding, I think, of what we are doing when we Die, Rise, and make promises to Live for Christ through baptism.

 

It is found directly following the Great Vigil of Easter and right before Eucharist. Order, you see, is important when it comes to the composition of our Book of Common Prayer. It, as Leonel Mitchell says,

shapes our believing.

 

You’ve heard the phrase, “Baptismal Covenant,” right?

 

In theological terms, or in God-talk, a covenant is something that brings about relationship of commitment between God and his people.

It isn’t just about the one making the covenant.

At each baptism the whole body remembers their baptism by reciting the Baptismal Covenant.

 

Those promises that God makes with us and we with him… “with God’s help,” we say.

 

In this morning’s Gospel, from Luke, we read,

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

 

Jesus, himself was baptized and declared from heaven as God’s beloved, so by extension, we can be called sons and daughters of The Most High, as well.

 

Sons and Daughters of God.

 

Worthy of dignity and respect, without clauses to remind us of who qualifies, but by mere act of creation, we are God’s beloved.

 

One of my favorite authors, and new Episcopalians, Rachel Held Evans, says in her book “Searching for Sunday,”

 

“Jesus did not begin to be loved at the moment of his baptism, nor did he cease to be loved when his baptism became a memory. Baptism simply named the reality of his existing and unending belovedness.”

 

And Saint Basil (the brother of the getting-better-known-saint Naucratius and better known brother Gregory) said,

As we were baptized, so we profess our belief. As we profess our belief, so also we offer praise. As then baptism has been given us by the Savior, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, so, in accordance with our baptism, we make the confession of the creed, and our doxology in accordance with our creed.”

So, brothers and sisters. On this day, the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord, I call on you to also remember your baptism as we live into this season of Epiphany and stand with me to renew our Baptismal Covenant.

 

The Baptismal Covenant

 

Celebrant Do you believe in God the Father?
People I believe in God, the Father almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.

Celebrant Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
People I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit

and born of the Virgin Mary.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again.

He ascended into heaven,

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Celebrant Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?
People I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting.

Celebrant Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and

fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the

prayers?

People I will, with God’s help.
Celebrant Will you persevere in resisting evil, and , whenever

you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?

People I will, with God’s help.

 

Celebrant Will you proclaim by word and example the Good

News of God in Christ?

People I will, with God’s help.
Celebrant Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving

your neighbor as yourself?

People I will, with God’s help.
Celebrant Will you strive for justice and peace among all

people, and respect the dignity of every human

being?

People I will, with God’s help.