10 January 2008 - Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord
Isaiah 43: 1-7/Acts 8: 14-17/Luke 3: 15-17, 21-22
The Reverend Kirk Alan Kubicek, Saint Peter’s at Ellicott Mills, Maryland
You Are My Beloved
Baptism and Eucharist are sacraments - that is they are signs of God’s Grace and God’s Presence among us.
Signs point the way for us. A sign on the road can tell us where we are going or where we are, or just how we are to get there, how fast or how slow our journey may be.
In Baptism and Eucharist simple elements like water, oil and light, bread and wine, point the way toward a life lived with God.
Look at the Baptismal Font. There it stands as the gateway to a new life. It is the doorway to the church. It has eight sides, reminding us that Jesus was named on the eighth day, one day more than seven, also symbolizing a new week, a new time, a new life.
All who wish to enter the life of Christ, all who wish to be made a part of the Body of Christ, His Church, must enter through the waters in this font. As we look into the waters of Baptism, what do we see?
The wind, the breath of God, the Spirit of God, blowing over the face of wild, untamed, boundless waves of creation, calling all things into being, setting every thing and every one in its rightful place. There is God himself, picking up a handful of moistened soil, breathing into it until there we are, created in the image of God, imago Dei, men and women created in God’s image.
Look again, and we will see the Hebrew people passing through the Red Sea on dry land, fleeing a land of slavery and endless labor for a land of promise: a promise of peace, justice and dignity for all people, at all times in every place.
Close our eyes and look one more time, and there we are on the banks of the River Jordan, where all the people of Judea and all the people of Jerusalem are waiting in expectation for a savior, an anointed one, a Christ. There is John, and there is Jesus, praying.
Suddenly, the heaven is opened, and the Holy Spirit that breathed over the waters of creation now descends like a dove, landing upon Jesus, while a voice from heaven proclaims, “You are my beloved, with you I am well pleased.”
The water in the font tells us these stories - stories that must never be forgotten. To forget these stories is to forget who we are. Look into the water and see all these things.
Above this water burns the Light of Christ, that marvelous and Holy Flame.
It shines continually to drive away all darkness. This light is the life of men and women everywhere, at all times in all places. All things and all people come into being through this light that is the eternal Word of God. The darkness has never overcome this light.
The light calls us to this font of blessing, this font of new life. All who enter by this water and in this light are to be changed forever. Through this water one is turned – one turns away from sin and turns toward Christ. We not only turn to Christ we turn with Christ and in Christ – Christ who on the banks of the River Jordan turns his life toward God and the announcing of God’s kingdom. We come to turn in the direction he chose to turn.
We no longer live alone. The person baptized is brought into a community, a new community, a community always being made new! This person’s life is now lived in the community of Christ’s Body – the Church.
Everyone who comes to this font is changed. And as they are changed, so is that sacred mystery the Church, the Body of Christ. We are changed as a community.
Once each new person enters this water, the Church, the Body of Christ, can never be the same as it once was. This is our promise. This is our pledge.
To do all in our power, not what we feel like doing, not what we want to do, not what we feel we can afford to do, but all that is in our power to support each person who enters these waters in their life in Christ.
As they enter these waters they enter these stories.
And as they enter these stories they too become a sign for others. All that we say and all that we do will proclaim the Good News of God in Christ.
We are to become the light, the light of Christ, for the world. The whole world and everything therein. From the water comes light. We are to let this light shine in and through all that we do, now and forever. This light means to shine in our hearts.
And as it was for Jesus, there is a voice that says to us, “You are my Beloved; I am well pleased with you!” Baptism incorporates us into the body of Christ. We are God’s Beloved. Claim your Belovedness. Look in the water. Look at this light.
May Christ, the morning star who knows no setting, find it ever burning – he who gives his light to all creation, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
As Isaiah tells it, “I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”