Sermon 10 January 2016

Baptism of Christ 2016 Isa 43:1-7 Acts 8:14-17 Luke 3:15-17,21-22     

‘The House at Pooh Corner’ p89  ‘Poohsticks’

River quietly flowing
 important but not claiming importance - just being there.

It had gathered in all of the young babbling streams and in maturity became more peaceful and purposeful for it knew where it was going.

The life of the forest had to cross this river and that was the purpose of the bridge.  It was an important place in the life of the forest and the animals.  It slowed everything down and regulated it.  It was in no hurry to get there.

It was a place of recreation, of fun and it discharged the animals competitiveness: a place of re-creation , of making new, of new discoveries.

An attractive place bringing the animals together and giving them something in common or making them realise what they had in common anyway.  It was a ‘crossing place’ where life crossed eternity and there was the spark of joy.  It was a place of games, games which allowed them to ‘see’ each other.  As in our lives the games we play, the things we do allow others to ‘see’ us.

As Christians that is important.  People will ‘see’ the basis of our lives if what we are and the ‘place’ where we meet are attractive and offer something fundamental - if there is a spark where the span of life crosses the eternal.

‘Shall we gather at the river?’  To join in its flow, to fall in and become part of it.  If all we ever do is stand and watch no-one else will want to join us.  We have to be playing a good game which gathers in the whole of our lives and anchors the concerns of the world in the context of eternity.

People gathered round John knowing or feeling that he had something to offer them which they would spend a very long time trying to understand and put to use.
We stand in the world as baptized people, throwing in our sticks to see how long they will take to float along. We express it by talking of receiving the Holy Spirit. It is a point of acceptance, of starting a journey of understanding, of being empowered by belief. It moves us on from wondering where and when our sticks will appear and who will win the game to grasping the dynamic of the game.

In the world today what do we do?  How do we approach the great questions before us? How do we transcend the great barriers of national boundary and cultural difference?

In our own baptism we have been joined to the body of Christ which exists in all time and beyond it. We stand on the same river bank as those looking on at John and the river bank just here and the river bank anywhere. We are joined in our humanity and in our faith with those with whom we agree and with those we don’t. We are bound to ask questions about the revealing of Christ and if that which we know is the only one.  The Christian faith is unique in its grasping of the cross but does the Christ and the Spirit of God dwell in other places too, perhaps with the cross yet to be apprehended.

The waters lead us straight into all human life and we cannot avoid it. We are up to our necks in all that goes on in the world.  Perhaps much of it we would prefer not to be but we are. At the moment of baptism the waters break and the pain takes on a new meaning.


© 2016 Frank Wright

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