Baptism Talk Sunday 24th Sept 2017

Baptism Talk ASLM Sunday 24.09.17

Martin Luther of Reformation fame, wrote

“I am baptised and through my baptism God who cannot lie has bound himself in covenant with me”

At Tesco and Waitrose, you get a loyalty Card, at Sainsburys you get a Nectar card. great things in themselves. But, God as it were, says “this Your baptismal certificate, is the Pledge of me to you and you to me until death and beyond”

In the first centuries of the Church Baptism was a symbol of something radical

For starters, you often got baptised without your clothes, something which I certainly don’t advise today!

But for 1st Century believers who would often get baptised in rivers they would burn their clothes on one side of the river step down into the waters be baptised and then be welcomed on the opposite bank, anointed with oil, sometimes all over their body, they must have been slippery! and clothed in a new set of clothes, symbolising new life and a fresh start, often baptisms were done as the day drew to its close, women baptised by Women deacons and men by Male deacons, and they may have been given a light to symbolize that they were now to walk in the Light of Christ.

They like our candidates today, were

Washed (I hope you have washed before coming)

Clothed afresh to symbolize their new walk with Christ

Anointed with oil to symbolize the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

And as the promises make clear for candidates for baptism then and now

Reject the devil

Renounce darkness

Repent of sin

They are under a new allegiance they are ships under a new flag.

Candidates Turn to Christ, submit to Christ, and come to Christ

Of ourselves in in our own strength saying and doing these things might work with a little bit of will power (maybe)

But the Nation of Israel showed that even with Gods backing with his laws to help them with boundaries, with His light at night, and cloud by day even with Victories given in battle and the provision of food they had failed to obey God.

Moses murdered someone

Israel rebelled in the Desert

Even when they were settled in Israel’s promised land, King David and then King Solomon his son messed up just like you and I do

So, Mark tells us that one bright day Jesus came born of Mary, cousin to John the Baptist, a perfect sinless human being, fully man and fully God, and he submitted himself to the same waters and promises that Karen did and is renewing, and Oscar and Isabelle are going through for the first time today

Take courage little ones; Jesus rejected the devil’s temptations that would follow in Mark 1 on our behalf, he went through a sinner’s baptism even though he never sinned

Take courage all of you here today because one bright day Jesus saw heaven ripped open, torn open (show illustration with a cloth being ripped) The Greek word used for ripped in Mark 1 is the same as the word for “Schism”, And at the end of his life on earth there would in Mark be another ripping as the curtain in the Temple was ripped in two making way for us to come into the presence of a Holy God through Christ’s death on the cross.

It wasn’t a faraway door in the sky, it was as if for one moment heavens reality was right there in front of Jesus being baptised, just like a door opening in CS Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles, there is the glimpse to the parallel reality of heaven, for one moment open here on earth, and the Trinity right at the start of Mark says we are here we are as team the Father the Son and The Holy Spirit.

The Father’s Voice of approval “This is my dear Son with whom I am well pleased”

The Spirit settling briefly on Jesus as a desert dove, Heaven is opened answering the Prophets cry in Isaiah 64: 1, but in a way, no one could have imagined. (when the Spirit came on Men it were, as with a flame (see Elijah in Kings and then Pentecost in Acts for we have sin that need burning up) but on the sinless Son of Man, Jesus, who had and has no sin, the Spirit alights as a delicate, shy desert dove.

And the Son coming up out of the water, now ready in the Spirits power and strength to begin his earthly ministry.

This was and is a sign for ever more of what life was meant to be;

A life lived in Unity,

Being washed,

The Father’s blessing, the Spirits anointing, the Son’s readiness to start in ministry

St Paul would write some 25 or 30 years after this day to the newly born Church in Philippi

“Let your manner of Life be worthy of the Gospel of Christ” (Phil 1:27a)

Stand firm in one Spirit

Don’t be frightened by your opponents

And as Paul says in Philippians 1:27b we are now citizens of heaven. People of Philippi were proud of being given Roman citizenship, a real privilege, but Paul says you now have a higher allegiance and that is heaven, something Karen alluded to in mentioning Colossians where in chapter 3 vs 2 Paul says Set your mind on Christ.

That bright day by the River Jordan was no “flash in the Pan” something new had happened in the life of Jesus and all who would follow him, he became the game changer.

And something new is going to happen today

A new allegiance has been forged The God who cannot lie has and will bound himself to you as you have testified for him and to him as you go through the waters of baptism. So, what you are waiting for!

 

See Mark 1:9-11

Philippians 1:21-30

 

Tudor Roberts September 24th.