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    • Jan9Mon

      Our baptismal calling

      A sermon for Baptism of our Lord January 9, 2023 by Sebastian Meadows-Helmer
      Filed Under:
      Pr. Sebastian

      Today we hear about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, his first public event as man, prophet and teacher.

      His ministry started with his baptism by his cousin, John,

      Who symbolically dunked him underwater at the river Jordan.

      As a baptized child of God, Jesus would go about his mission helping people and talking about God.

      As we remember this event, we also recall our own baptism, and affirm that as baptized children of God, we also, like Jesus, 

      have a mission: to help people and talk about God.

      Our Baptismal mission, like that of Jesus, 

      is to proclaim the Good News to all those in need of healing.

      We heard this morning from the prophet Isaiah a future vision, 

      of a time when

      All the nations (countless peoples) would stream to the mountain of God’s love.

      Where men, women and children would invite each other with the words:

      “Let us go

      that God may teach us God’s ways

      That we may walk in God’s paths!"

      As Christians, we believe that this vision became reality in the coming of Jesus,

      That the long-held hopes and dreams of God’s people being united throughout time and space came to pass 

      when Jesus stepped on the scene.

      We believe that baptism is the great equalizer, 

      that there is neither male nor female, young or old, 

      No race nor ethnicity,

      rich or poor in God’s kingdom…

      all that matters is that you are God’s child, 

      something which is affirmed through baptism.

      In baptism we confess that God loves us from before our birth 

      until after our death,

      And in baptism we make known the fact that nothing can separate us from God’s love as shown in Jesus, the light of the Creator.

      All the baptized can welcome each other with the words:

      “Let us walk in the light of the Holy One of God!”

      Starting this Sunday, we are now in the Season of Epiphany, 

      The word Epiphany means “making manifest”, or “making visible”.

      We recall in this Season that the star was made visible to the magi, welcoming them on a journey from the east to arrive finally 

      at the house in Bethlehem where Jesus was staying.

      Today we remember that at Jesus’ Baptism, 

      the Voice from on High proclaimed: "this is my Son, the Beloved, 

      in whom I am well pleased”,

      Making apparent to the bystanders that Jesus was indeed God’s child.

      His identity was hidden prior to the baptism, 

      but it was revealed and made known afterwards.

      Jesus’ baptism was an epiphany of who Jesus was.

      In the coming together of water and the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ Holy Father was disclosed.

      Our task as Christians, as baptized and called followers of Christ, 

      is to be little Epiphanies wherever we are, with whomever we meet.

      We, as men, women, non-binary and children 

      are called to make visible the invisible God, 

      and to uncover God’s workings in the world so that others can see it too.

      Living out the Epiphany, a baptismal calling, is a life-long task.

      Living out the Epiphany means talking about the Good News of Jesus “like a lamp shining in a bleak place”.

      It’s a challenging journey, one that takes us out of our comfort zone, and can leave us exposed to ridicule, disdain or even pity.

      Sometimes we don’t know how to start, and as Lutherans, it’s not really part of our DNA…

      most Lutherans become Lutheran because they are born Lutheran or they marry a Lutheran. 

      We aren’t that good about making God known to our friends, neighbours and relatives. 

      And if we think too hard about it, then well, it just becomes too daunting, right?

      That’s perhaps where our reading from Second Peter comes in, 

      which reminds us that

      No prophecy came by human will,

      rather women and men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God!

      It’s not about our own abilities, our own knowledge or intelligence, or our ability to persuade. 

      It’s even not about preparing the proper words.

      No, the whole reason this works is because of the Holy Spirit. 

      The Holy Spirit who was present at Jesus’ baptism, will give us the words, the opportunities to witness and to talk about Jesus.

      All we need is the willingness to let the Holy Spirit work through us.

      The big question for most of us is of course:

      How will I do it, and what will I say?

      Well that’s where learning comes in, 

      and there will be some programmes offered this year at St. Matts that can help with this.

      Other small but basic steps are included in the promises made at Confirmation or Affirmation of Baptism, that we strive:

      to live among God's faithful people, (to talk to other Christians and share our common faith stories and to pray)

      to hear the word of God and share in the Lord's supper, (to attend worship services and read the Bible )

      to serve all people, following the example of Jesus, (to use our gifts in the best ways we can)

      In these small and more manageable ways we build up our faith life in order to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed,

      And to be little Epiphanies, shining a light and revealing Jesus in the world.

      May we all see in our Baptism a reason to share our faith with others,

      Making visible where we see God at work in our lives, and pray that the Holy Spirit may now fill our hearts, and give us the gifts we need to 

      Share God’s love with all we encounter, 

      And to invite others to “walk in God’s paths."

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