The First Sunday after the Epiphany: The Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ: January 10, 2016
Preacher: The Rev. Leigh Mackintosh, Associate Rector, St. Michael’s Church
How many of you have been baptized?
How many of you were baptized as teenagers or adults?
How many of you were baptized as infants or children?
And how many of you think about your baptism every day? You wake up in the morning saying, I am baptized…yes I am ready to start my day!
Baptism is one of those sacraments we don’t think about unless someone we know or someone from our family is being baptized or until it pops up on our liturgical calendar like today when we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
But baptism is an amazing powerful sacrament. The Prayer Book says: The bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble. Our baptismal bond is everlasting and invincible! It cannot be broken or destroyed by anything—not by doubt, nor fear, nor sin, nor death nor any power on heaven or on earth. The bond God forms with us by water and the Holy Spirit lives on in us as part of our every day lives. It is so powerful, so amazing that we only need to do it once and we are changed forever.
It marks us as Christ’s own forever.
It washes away our old selves and grants us opportunities to begin a new life.
It has the power to cleanse even our greatest, darkest moments.
It protects us from evil.
It opens for us a doorway to grow deeper in our faith.
It welcomes us into a spiritual community called church.
It encourages us to support one another through praying and by following Christ’s example.
In all these ways and more baptism opens us to experience God more fully in our lives and invites us to share deeper levels of connection with God and with one another.
So today, I’d like to invite you to join me in the baptismal challenge. To begin to see this amazing, powerful sacrament not as a one-time thing we do as Christians, but as a way of living. And for any of you out there who are not baptized, don’t think you’re off the hook. You can participate too. And as you participate in this challenge, if there’s anyone interested in being baptized or reaffirming your baptismal vows, please let Mother Kate or I know.
Whenever you see water, remember your Baptism. Remember as you brush your teeth, take a shower, and do dishes that we are buried with Christ in his death and our sins are washed away.
Whenever you see water, remember your baptism. Remember as you drink your coffee or tea and as you step over puddles that by water we share in Jesus’ resurrection–we follow Jesus in the way of the cross—to pray and live and love as he did.
Whenever you see water, remember your baptism. Remember as you walk by a pond or run by the river that through water we are reborn by the Holy Spirit, which means you are loved by God and this community.
Whenever you see water, remember your baptism: remember your sins are washed away, remember to follow Jesus; remember you are loved.
Holy Baptism calls us to do two things: renounce evil and recommit ourselves to Christ.
Turn to page 302.
Baptism calls us to renounce evil in 3 ways:
This means renounce evil on a spiritual level.
This means renounce evil on a communal level. Renouncing the ways in which evil has become systemic in our societies, institutions, nations, governments, schools, businesses, and even our churches.
This means renouncing evil on an individual, personal level. Rooting out the things that draw us from knowing and believing that we are God’s beloved children made in the image of the divine.
We commit ourselves by turning to Jesus as our Savior, by trusting in God’s grace and love, and by following and obeying Jesus as Lord.
In our baptismal challenge, I invite you to reflect on the renunciations and recommittals not as mutually exclusive activities, but as pairs the form a cyclical relationship. For each renunciation leads us to deeper commitment in Christ. And each commitment to Christ empowers and enables us to renounce evil.
For instance, whenever we turn to Jesus Christ as our Savior—whenever we stop depending upon ourselves alone to do everything and save the world and invite God and others to help us, then we are able to renounce spiritual evil.
And, whenever we come face to face with Satan and his spiritual forces of darkness, we merely need to call upon Jesus Christ as our Savior to have the power to vanquish them.
When we put our whole trust in God’s grace and love—when we believe that good can triumph over evil; when we envision the reign of God on earth; when our actions are rooted in justice, righteousness, and mercy then we are able to renounce the systemic evils ingrained in our world.
Finally, I invite you to pray every day: Jesus, with God’s grace I will follow you as my Savior and Lord. Amen.
The Baptismal Challenge!
Because baptism is more than a one-time experience—it’s a sacramental way of living.
Whenever you see water, remember your baptism.
Remember your sins are washed away.
Remember to follow Jesus—to pray and live by his example.
Remember you are loved by God and this community.
Each week, reflect on one of the following:
Whenever I turn to Jesus Christ as my Savior, I am able to renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God.
Whenever I put my whole trust in God’s grace and love, I am able to renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God.
Whenever I renounce all sinful desires that draw me from the love of God, I am able to follow and obey Jesus as Lord.
Jesus, with God’s grace I will follow you as my Savior and Lord. Amen