2nd Sunday of Epiphany- Baptism of Christ – Sermon 294
2nd Sunday of Epiphany- Baptism of Christ
6.30pm Evening Prayer BCP
13th January 2019
Prayer to start
May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ
So what’s new? – Well – we’re two weeks into the New Year – the sales are in full swing – they have been before Christmas – encouraging us to go out and buy new things – new clothes – new shoes – new computers?
We all like new things – its exciting and lifts us – starting out on a new job or new task is exciting too –
and today we celebrate the time when Jesus began His new Job – or challenge – His ministry – which of course began – with His baptism.
Point 1 Paul and our Baptism into Christ
Victor Hugo’s novel – Les Miserables – which you may be watching as part of your Sunday Night TV viewing – tells the story of a man who was sent to prison for 19 years hard labour for stealing a loaf of bread – and when he is finally released – he becomes a tough ex-convict
but one day his life is transformed by forgiveness – a Bishop invites him to stay at his home for the night – but he steels the family silver – and when he is finally captured and brought back – the Bishop’s response is not what he expected- ‘ I’m delighted to see you’ he says – I’d forgotten that I gave you the candlesticks as well – did you forget to take them? ‘
When the policemen had gone – the Bishop said to the man – who was speechless and trembling – ‘ Do not forget – do not ever forget – that you promised me to use the money – to make yourself a new man’
When God’s grace touches us – we are given the opportunity of a new life – it can be dramatic – like this man – or gradual – but it will transform us –
and in our reading from Romans – Paul uses many illustrations to describe our lives before and after we become Christians –
In our reading he uses the visible and public sign of baptism – to help explain why the idea of ‘sinning so that Grace may increase’ – is unthinkable for a Christian.
‘Have you forgotten’ – says Paul – ‘that when we were baptised into union with Christ – we were baptised into His death?’ – Through Baptism we have died to sin – and can live in it no longer?
And by Baptism into Jesus’ death – we are buried with Him – so that as Christ was raised from the dead – by the glorious power of the Father – so also – we might be set out on a new life –
and – if we have died with Christ – we believe that we shall also live with Him –
In other words – Paul tells us that our old-self is crucified along with Jesus –
and just as He came out of that tomb – transformed – by the Father – so we are transformed by the Son.
We are changed by Him – and renewed by His Spirit – and share in His promised inheritance – of eternal life – that eternal life is for living now – so deliberate sinning is not an option.
Because of our Baptism into Jesus – we have the promise and we have the transformation – and the certainty of all this – brings with it – an overwhelming presence of joy and peace and love – that only Jesus can give –
Point 2 Call through Isaiah
Isaiah too reminds us about the benefits that come when we are transformed and changed by God – through our Baptism with Jesus –
God is our great nourisher and sustainer – and we are encouraged to hear His call – and to come and receive the food and drink that He offers – the food and drink that really does satisfy – His word –
Isaiah tells us that by feeding on God – through coming to faith – we can begin something that not even death can destroy –
When we drink the water that He provides – He will not only quench our thirst today – but become a constant source of refreshment throughout the whole of our lives –
God – nourishes us with His word – Feeds us with His Spirit – fill us with His love – and all these things increase our understanding of Him –
They encourage and sustain our Christian faith – develop and strengthen our character and help us to come closer to Him – who shows us how we can live together as His people
God shows us how we can carry each other’s burdens and bear each other’s weaknesses –
God helps us understand ourselves – and other people – helps us understand about how He works in the world – and ultimately –
Through God’s life-giving nourishment we will find ourselves rescued – from the down-pull of sin – forgiven and transformed by His loving grace –
Point 3 What it means for us
So – as Christians – when we are baptized into Jesus – our old life is dead – crucified – its bondage – its shame – its wrongdoing and guilt – the power of sin in our lives has been broken – by Jesus –
That in itself is good news – but there’s more –
through the resurrection there is also the power to live a new life in Christ today – nourished and transformed by God who empowers us for each moment from when we become Christians –
This means new hope – new life – a new beginning – because we now walk each day with his presence and power which enables us to live a different way which – enables us to live the way that God wants us to live –
There can be no turning back – the only way is forward – acting on what we know to be true –
Today we live in a world that seems to have lost its way – and so Jesus commands us to live this new life – and show this transformation to others – so that they might see Him through us – and want to be part of it too –
He wants us to live our faith in everything we do – to show others that being one of his followers is something wonderful – so wonderful that we want them to share it –
There can be no turning back – the only way is forward into this new life we have been given – acting and depending on Jesus for help and encouragement –
At our Baptism – for most of us – our promises of faith and trust were made for us by our parents and God-parents – But now as adults we need to make that commitment to Him ourselves –
We have a God who is beyond expression – yet who delights to hear our prayers –who wants to be our intimate friend – We need to leave – a space for Him – for prayer – study and reflection – for absorbing His spiritual sustenance –
to enable God to fill us – and open our eyes a fresh – to His greatness – and sovereignty – and purpose for each one of us –
So – in this new year – how about making a resolution that will lead us to a new beginning
– by affirming our faith and trust in Jesus Christ – promising to give time for Him –
And using our Baptism vows – and renewing our commitment to God’s service – not just for today – but for everyday!