Sunday, 11 January 2015

Can't make it to church - 11 January 15

This Sunday is an important one in the life of the Church as we reflect upon Jesus coming to John (the Baptist) and being baptised begin his earthly ministry.

Now many people seem to think that this is the moment when Jesus is 'adopted' as the Son of God but it isn't. In fact 'adoption' is a bit of a heresy (wrong thinking) and is greatly frowned upon by those who like to have their theology sorted.

What we have is an account of the beginning of it all from genesis - an event which we are told features all three persons of the Trinity (meaning Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and with the baptism of Jesus the boys are once again back in town again as the Father speaks, the Son is baptised and the Spirit descends.

The New Testament passage provides a little insight and perhaps explains where some of those who claim that Jesus was, 'Just an ordinary guy until he became filled with the Spirit!' errors might come from. The reason being that Paul bumps into a bunch of blokes who had been baptised but only with John's baptism - so they'd repented - and when the same people are filled with the Holy Spirit things all get a bit livened up. This is the same as we see with the believers at Pentecost and it provides us with some really important insights as we celebrate the beginning of Jesus' earthly ministry - and ours too!

Here's a little bit of thinking for you to consider in that I reckon that everyone is made in the image of the invisible God and that all are able to be considered 'God's people' but it is only when we realise this that we affix to ourselves that label (which we call 'laos' - God's people - in Greek - which is why those in Church are sometimes called 'laity').  Everyone is laity and whilst some people add extra labels (deacons = deacons, people who 'wait at tables and serve, presbyters = priests, people who administer some of the 'holy stuff') - we are always first and foremost laity!

When we are baptised we, like Jesus, find ourselves with a ministry here on earth - we call this our 'baptismal calling' - and if baptism is the recognition of it for us, then the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the means by which we can accomplish it. We are often referred to as adopted - Jesus never was! He had His calling, and the means by which He might achieve it from the start, we needed some running repairs to get us up to speed for ours. Which of course we are all doing, aren't we?

What's that Sooty, we're not?

So today as we consider the baptism of Jesus we are called to consider, and to seek out if we don't know, what the calling on us is and when we know - to get out and do it.

How simple can we make it than this I wonder?

The Collect
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. Amen.

So why not think about what we';d like to be doing in Church - those things that ring our bells and get us excited and get ourselves out there to start doing it. Working in Church is about fun and being fulfilled, it's not (as the Baptist Church I began in used to tell me) about doing the stuff you don't want to do - what sort of God would that make Him if that was true?

Genesis 1.1-5
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Acts 19.1-7
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the inland regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. He said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?’ They replied, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ Then he said, ‘Into what then were you baptised?’ They answered, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ Paul said, ‘John baptised with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.’
On hearing this, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied - altogether there were about twelve of them.

Mark 1.4-11
John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptised by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptised you with water; but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

Was it like this for John the Baptist I wonder?

Post Communion 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.

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