Jesus brought the grace of God to bear upon the world. This week we remember that he was baptised by his cousin John the Baptist. He was baptised in water. Jesus refers to the Spirit of God as “Living Water” when he meets with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 6. Cryil of Jerusalem writes,
“Why did Christ refer to the grace of the Spirit under the name of water? Because through water all plants and animals live. The rain comes down from heaven and though it comes in one form, its effects have various forms; yes indeed, one spring watered all of paradise, and the same rain falls on the whole world, yet it turns white in the lily, red in the rose, and purple in the violet.”
Have you been baptised?
Baptism is a sign of entry into the Christian faith. Baptism with adults is in response to their confession of faith in God as followers of Jesus Christ. Unusual occurences can accompany baptism. When Jesus was baptised, a dove descended upon him.
When I was baptised, an overwhelming flood poured down my body from above as if a surge of power passed through me.
Adult parents often ask to have their children baptised. This is a carry over from the days of Christendom when citizenship was linked to the church; when nearly everyone went to church and if you didn’t go, you were the odd one out. Parents would have their baby baptised or ‘christened’ – in the ceremony, the child was given their name and recognised as part of society. Parents would instruct their child in the faith and when the child was a young teenager, they would confirm their own baptism and be given full membership in the life of the church.
To offer oneself for baptism is simply to offer oneself to God in a covenant relationship.
It is important to recognise that the ceremony of baptism – washing with water, is what people do. It brings order to our church life and has done so for centuries. But God knows the heart of the person being baptised and God’s Spirit is not something the Church may control or order at will. Indeed the Church is subject to the Spirit and often finds herself changed by the work of the Spirit!
God breaks into our lives in all sorts of ways and when we recognise God, when we respond to that voice that calls us to wholeness, our baptism is our way of entering into the community of God’s faith – a sign of our belonging to God, being part of his people today and being involved in his kingdom of grace in all we do and say.
We are the people of God, brought to birth in the rush of water, washed and sustained day by day by the beauty of water. We see the wonder of rivers and streams, and the endless waves of the mighty seas.
Our faces are lifted up to receive the gentle rain and the miracle of the greening of the earth as it falls. (Dorothy McRae-McMahon)