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BAPTISM, ADVENT 1 Yr A Woodbridge, John M.
November 26, 2016
Happy new year, year A again, you can picture streamers balloons, and whistles, well perhaps later!!
Advent ushers in the new year as we prepare during a season of penitence for Christmas, and the celebration of the birth of the baby Jesus, Simultaneously, advent foreshadows the second coming of Jesus the day of judgement.
I am quite sure that we do not have to sleep for years or millennia to gain access to God’s kingdom when our time comes, but that our souls have too much to do to lie about waiting. The job of restoration of creation through Jesus must go on.
The second coming will signal the completion of Jesus mission on earth and while many in the Church would wish that to be immediate or close at hand, it may be a cop out from assisting God to fulfill the promises of Jesus to the best of our ability during our own lifetimes.. It is a win win situation anyway so long as we can have a foot in the Kingdom during this life before the main event occurs.
Baptism is always heartwarming and uplifting and it also provides the opportunity all of us to renew our own vows and I encourage you to do that during this service, Maybe not aloud or we might drown out our candidates today.
It is a mystery baptism, how through it we become part of Christ and he becomes part of us, we live in him and he in us as our service tells us.
We know that the symbolic washing away of our sins with water harks back to Jesus sacrifice on the cross, and that was prophesied by Isaiah some 700 years before Christ walked the earth. Chapter 53 talks of his passion, his torture on the cross, how he was killed as a criminal but yet carried our griefs and sorrows, and his bruises and wounds made us whole. That not only spiritual health, but healing of sickness and restoration from the brokenness of this life are a product of his conquering sin, defeating the Devil on the cross. Our separation from God is removed for all eternity.
Through baptism not only are our sins washed away through Jesus blood, but we are baptized into Jesus life, death and resurrection.
Being baptized into Jesus life, as we become new people in Christ we learn and follow Jesus teaching, Follow the model he set through his life. A life of obedience to God, a life of love for all and a life of absolute honesty where the truth he told to some was no doubt hard for them to hear.
Being baptized into Jesus’ death. Our physical bodies don’t die, but the life of sin within us does die, sometimes a slow death but the victory is won and it is up to us to embrace that victory for ourselves and live for Jesus instead of living for ourselves in the ways of the world. The ways of the world being the ways of self indulgence and gratification.
Baptism nito Jesus resurrection is probably the greatest mystery, his restoration to life by God so that after three days he left the tomb, left his grave and appear, to Mary, , Peter and John then to the Disciples minus Thomas in the upper room, then on the road to Emmaus. He continued his teaching and encouragement and preparation of the disciples to continue in his absence.
He was fully spiritual and fully human, passing through solid objects but also eating fish and being touched as well as seen by those followers.
His restoration to life is reflected in our baptism. As by our choice, God causes sin within us to die, then we become new people in Christ. Born again Christians tends to refer to a branch of the Pentecostal Church but the reality is that all the baptized are baptized into new life.
Many people equate Jesus with the Bhudda, Confuscious, the Dali Lama, because of the harmony of their teaching. Basically love one another but Jesus teaching is a morsel compared to his confronting and defeating the Devil. He could have removed himself from the cross healed and restored as he did with numerous people in restoring them to life, but in dying he gained the victory as he was the perfect sacrifice God for God.
New life not as individuals, but as members of the Church which is the body of Christ in the world.
Being baptized into the Church is not like joining a club, but as we hear in Ephesians, Christ unites all things, no longer Jew and Gentile, male or female, slave or free, we are all equally loved as children of God. A Christian anywhere in the world is truly a brother or sister of Jesus and of each other.
Again part of the mystery is that we are then one people, no race, colour, social or political status separates us, we are all one in Christ.
We rejoice with Rung and Kai that as adults they have chosen Christ and for Jayden he has been marked with the cross and can make his own choice to engage fully at a later time.
The coincidence that this baptism coincides with Advent can hardly be lost on us. New beginnings for Rung, for Kai and for Jaiden and new beginnings for us.
New year resolutions are commonplace in the world, I think that we can carry over the resolutions that the Parish has engaged with in recent times, to focus upon becoming a discipling Parish. We look forward to the fruit God will bring to bear on our endeavours.
Following my last visit here when I spoke about discipling as did Lesley a fortnight ago, I realized that I had overlooked an important principle so before delivering the message at Cygnet, I reworked to discuss the need to change culture in our Parish, Change culture to be proud of that which we do for God and speak about it. You can view the sermon on the website rather than turn today into a marathon.
The sharing of prayer thanks and needs which took place is a significant step in that direction.
It will be exciting as we progress on this new journey with God and to experience all that God has in store for us in the coming year.
As we wait for the Christ child’s birth celebration on Christmas Day and for Jesus second coming, we thank God for the new beginning in today’s baptisms and we thank God for the new beginnings of life in our Parish and we thank God for the new life we all know in Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen