Mid Week Reflection – Baptism
at the Jordan you revealed Jesus as your Son:
may we recognize him as our Lord
and know ourselves to be your beloved children;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
(Collect for the 1st Sunday of Epiphany Year C)
Baptism is the one sacrament of the Church in which water is a symbol of the grace of God in Christ. What is ‘grace’? It is the unmerited and Divine gift of God. I read this simple yet profound description ‘a sacrament is a reality laced with the unseen presence of God.’ A beautiful and yet simple description.
Baptism can and does take place in any number of settings, outside, inside, as a child or as an adult. They can be well organised, a great community and family occasion, they also can be services where dignity enfolds the proceedings. On the other hand, they can be quite different.
My mother was born and baptised somewhere in County Limerick, I think or maybe it was County Kerry. The story goes, she was a sickly baby and the midwife thought she was going to die so she whisked her off to the local parish priest and Mum was duly baptised according to the Roman Catholic rites, the words probably in Latin. She was the only one of her siblings not to be baptised the Mariners Church (Church of Ireland) in Dun Laoghaire.
I will never forget one baptism of a highly spirited toddler, he had pulled my glasses off, had started to put my stole around himself. I gave the child back to the father. I then filled the font with water, I pulled his socks off and sat him on the edge of the stone font and he splashed water around to his heart’s content. While he was playing and laughing, I baptised him, much to the amusement of the family and guests.
The majority of baptisms I have taken have been simple and joyous occasions where I have tried to emphasise that the child is special in the sight of God and that the child is beginning a journey and faith is an important part of that journey. I know those words often get lost in ‘all the changing scenes of life’, but I have played my part, I have offered the sacrament that was ‘laced with the unseen presence of God.’
Each Easter as we gathered for the first Communion of Easter, we renewed our Baptismal promises. Hopefully this year as a community, we will gather and renew these promises.
The first Sunday of Epiphany offers prayers and readings inspired by the Baptism of Jesus and it is a suitable time to reflect personally on the promises, often made on our behalf many years ago, but also to recall those we know who have been baptised.
Eternal Father, who at the baptism of Jesus
revealed him to be your Son,
anointing him with the Holy Spirit:
grant to us, who are born again by water and the Spirit,
that we may be faithful to our calling as your adopted children;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. (Collect for the 1st Sunday of Epiphany Year C)
The Word of God
Psalm 29 (1-3,9-10)
Ascribe to the Lord, you powers of heaven, •
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the honour due to his name; •
worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders; •
the Lord is upon the mighty waters.
The Lord sits enthroned above the water flood; •
the Lord sits enthroned as king for evermore.
The Lord shall give strength to his people; •
the Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.
A reading from Luke (3.15-16, 21-22)
As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
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.’
Pause and recall your friends, family and yourselves. You do not need to find words just sit quietly and let your thoughtful silence be your prayer, take your time do not rush:
• think about your friends, where are they, what are they doing, perhaps make a note to get in touch
• think about your family, how are they? Rejoice in all that is good and or hold any struggles your family is facing in the silence of your heart.
• Think about ourselves, how are things? Are there things to be grateful for and or worry you?
Eternal God, our beginning and our end,
preserve in your people the new life of baptism;
as Christ receives us on earth,
so may he guide us through the trials of this world
and enfold us in the joy of heaven,
where you live and reign,
one God for ever and ever. Amen.
We are called to worship and serve God.
Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers? Yes, with God’s help, I will.
Will you resist behaviour that cause’s pain and distress to others, and, whenever you miss the mark will you say sorry to them and the Lord? Yes, with God’s help, I will.
Will you proclaim by word and example
the good news of God in Christ? Yes, with God’s help, I will.
Will you seek and serve Christ in all people,
loving your neighbour as yourself? Yes, with God’s help, I will.
Will you recognise the rule of Christ’s, and pray for the world and its leaders,
by defending the weak, and by seeking peace and justice?
Yes, with God’s help, I will.
(Adapted from Thanksgiving for Holy Baptism)
The Lord’s Prayer
Lord of all time and eternity,
you opened the heavens and revealed yourself as Father
in the baptism of Jesus your beloved Son:
by the power of your Spirit
complete the heavenly work of our rebirth
through the waters of the new creation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Post Communion Prayer for the 1st Sunday of Epiphany Year C)
(Derek is a retired Anglican Parish Priest and a member of the congregations of All Saints & St James)
Images – Jordan River Baptism Site Israel zeller, Creative Commons Attribution 2.5, St Mark, St Marks Hill, Surbiton John Salmon Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0
Collect, Post Communion Prayer and words from Thanksgiving for Holy Baptism – Liturgy © Common Worship, The Archbishops Council, 2000
Parish of Kirklees Valley, Bury, (All Saints, Elton & St James, Woolfold)
In the Diocese of Manchester
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