Podcast Reflections

Baptism of Christ (Year C)

Listen to a Sermon for the Festival of the Baptism of Christ, Sunday 9 January 2022 (Year C)

No matter what the world may be telling you, and no matter what your own instincts may be telling you – we are still journeying through the season of Christmas.

Yes – the carols have been sung and the presents have been given and received; and after all of those wonderful pieces of scripture have been read it is so easy for us to slip into the negativity of wondering what good news there is left for us now.

Here – on the other side of Christmas Day – so many of us find ourselves living in the same old world, with the same people, and struggling with the same old demons.

In fact – despite the joys of Christmas – we find that we are still waiting:
still waiting for Jesus –
still waiting for his Kingdom to come –
still waiting for his will to be done.

Here – on the other side of Christmas Day – we hear so many people (including faithful Christians) say: Now what?

Perhaps you feel that even the Church’s lectionary is struggling. Surely it was only just before Christmas that we pondered the baptism that was being offered by John the Baptist – and yet, today, we find ourselves back in the wilderness – back in line waiting for what John has to offer us –

But … today there is a difference.

Today, Luke tells us that – when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him … like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased’.

So … now what?

Luke’s account of the baptism of Jesus is an account of an intimate encounter between Jesus and God.

Luke is giving us the opportunity to discover what that baptism meant for Jesus, before we try to work out what it means for us.

So – what did it mean to Jesus?

It did not mean that the Father would keep him out of trouble.

Nor did it mean that things would work out just the way he would prefer.

But … what it did mean – was that when he found himself struggling with the horrors of human existence – then, Jesus’ baptism meant that he would not find himself standing alone.

It meant that he would always know the blessing of the Father and the companionship of the Holy Spirit.

And this is what baptism should mean to us as well!

Jesus’ baptism means that we are not alone in the wilderness.

Jesus’ baptism means that, thanks to God’s good grace, God’s love for us does not depend on us.

Jesus’ baptism means that whenever we find ourselves engulfed in the mess of human existence, we can be sure that God is there with us.

It is said that whenever Martin Luther found himself ready to give up, he would touch his forehead and say to himself – Remember you have been baptized.

Here – on the other side of Christmas Day – that is a really good role model to follow – in those words we find the good news of Jesus’ incarnation.

On this feast of the Baptism of Christ we, like Luther, should never forget that we are baptized.

We should never forget that the comfort and affirmation Jesus experienced through baptism is there for us too.

However dark the night and however bitter the tears, we must never forget that God is with us.

We just need to open our hearts and our minds and say: OK – so what do you want me to do now?