O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Lord of creation,
whose glory is around and within us:
open our eyes to your wonders,
that we may serve you with reverence
and know your peace at our lives’ end,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
then were we like those who dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter
and our tongue with songs of joy.
Then said they among the nations,
‘The Lord has done great things for them.’
The Lord has indeed done great things for us,
and therefore we rejoiced.
Restore again our fortunes, O Lord,
as the river beds of the desert.
Those who sow in tears
shall reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed,
will come back with shouts of joy,
bearing their sheaves with them.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.’
Every baptism service ends with the Giving of a Lighted Candle. That light is taken from the Paschal Candle of that year. What makes a baptism candle special is the markings that can be seen on it. There is a cross, representing the sacrifice Christ made in order that he might conquer death by rising again from the tomb. There are the Greek letters Alpha and Omega. These two letters, the first and last of the Greek alphabet, represent Christ’s presence from the dawn of time until the moment when all time will cease. There is a symbol representing water. Water is necessary for life to continue and it is used to cleanse and renew. Finally, there is the symbol of the dove. This is a universal symbol representing the coming of the Holy Spirit upon us. The baptism candle is then crowned with the light that was first lit as the Church celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ in its Easter Vigil. The light of the baptism candle is given to both illuminate and protect the life of the one who has been baptised. The baptism candle is very special indeed.
In today’s reading we are told of the importance of that light. The light of Christ is meant to shine out in this world. Those who are called into the company of Christ’s faithful people, that is all who are baptised, are called to bear that light wherever they go, thus ensuring that the light of Christ may overcome the darkness of evil and sin.
In the baptism service, candidates for baptism or their godparents promise to reject the devil and the corruption of evil. While this language may seem to reek of medieval superstition, it is as relevant today as it ever was. There is much evil in this world. But, that evil cannot resist the power of the light of Christ.
As the lit baptism candle is given to the one who has been baptised, these words are said: Shine as a light in the world to the glory of God the Father. The light of Christ’s resurrection power is not meant to be hid away. That light should shine out in all that we say and do. The power of God will overcome all that seeks to extinguish the Light of Christ. It is for us to play our part in ensuring that that Light is neither extinguished nor hidden out of sight.
Let us pray that we might be faithful to the promises made by us, or on our behalf, in our baptisms. Let us pray that we might be faithful bearers of the Light of Christ as we journey along the dark pathways of this world. Let us pray that others may be drawn to that light and thus increase those who can claim to be saved by Jesus, our Lord and our God.
Prayers of intercession
We pray that Christ may be seen in the life of the Church.
You have called us into the family of those who are the children of God. May our love for our brothers and sisters be strengthened by your grace.
You have called us to be a temple where the Holy Spirit can dwell. Give us clean hands and pure hearts, so that our lives will reflect your holiness.
You have called us to be a light to the world, so that those in darkness come to you. May our lives shine as a witness to the saving grace you have given for all.
You have called us to be members of your body, so that when one suffers, all suffer together. We ask for your comfort and healing power to bring hope to those in distress.
You have called us to be the Bride, where you, Lord, are the Bridegroom. Prepare us for the wedding feast, where we will be united with you for ever.
Jesus, Lord of the Church, hear our prayer, and make us one in heart and mind to serve you with joy for ever. Amen.
Prayer for the week
you have taught us to pray to you as ‘Our Father’:
help us to see the world through your eyes,
and to love our neighbours with your love.
Show us how we can share with them
the knowledge and joy of our faith,
that they may be brought closer to you,
and enjoy the perfect freedom of your kingdom.
We make our prayer in the name of Jesus Christ,
our Lord and our God.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.