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Luke 3:15-17, 21-22


This morning I was privileged to participate in a baptismal service. Honestly, I consider this to be one of the perks that comes with being staff in a large church and being one of only two priests on hand this morning. I love baptisms. Love. Them.

Here’s Why: because I don’t actually really remember much about my own. I was young, maybe 4 or 5 and what I can tell you about it is that I wore a red dress with a white apron on it and that I didn’t like the material of the dress because it was scratchy.

I don’t remember the water or the oil. I don’t remember the words or the prayers. No dove descended that I can recall. But each time I participate in a baptism I get to recite the words for myself. I am reminded of my commitment to this ministry and I am reminded that I don’t do it alone.

Will I persevere in resisting evil and whenever I fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord? I will, with God’s help.

God, who loves us first and who extends the grace that shows Gods love and forgiveness will help me to live into the commitments that I have made to this faith that I proclaim.

Last week we celebrated the beginning of the season of Epiphany, which is why we gave out glow sticks at the end of the service. This season of the ah – ha, the story that we tell is about the wise men or the kings, depending on who is telling the story; who were led by a star to the Christ child. This is the season when we acknowledge Christ in the world around us. We pull back the veil and we see God in each other and in creation, each beloved by its maker and we try to do the same. Tonight on this second Sunday in the season of Epiphany ( which will be short because Ash Wednesday is February 10 – not far away) we remember our own baptisms through the story of the baptism of Jesus.

This morning, Peter reminded us in his sermon of something Jim Cruickshank once said: that we may not always choose God but God always chooses us. Isn’t that an incredible thing, when you think about it? I can tell you that in my life I have not always chosen God but God always chooses me and you; because we are Gods very own.

And I cannot get the words of Isaiah’s poem out of my head: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name and 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, you Saviour.

That is what we are buying into when we participate in baptism. We are acknowledging whose we are and what that looks like on our end; what we will try to do to hold up our end of this relationship that we are in with God.

The baptismal vows that I fail at with regularity and still I am redeemed and loved by God.

You know we don’t really talk about sin all that much here or in the mainline denominations in general. But I was telling Andrew the other day in our office that it is something that I have actually been thinking a lot about recently. And what do I mean by sin – how do I define it? Well I think it sin is when I turn away from God. When I participate in or support that which is not defined by or furthers the love of God for us in the world.

Like when I dig a little deeper than I need to in conversations to look for the dirt or when I push my own agenda because I just really want things to go my way but don’t listen to what the people around me are saying that they need or want or hope for.

When I forget the world is not just about me, but about us – when I forget that I am not in this alone but as a part of this community and as a full member of Gods good creation – that is where sin begins for me.

I need to be reminded of my baptismal vows because I need to remember what I promised in the first place – or what the adults in my life promised for me. Something about what it means to be a part of the Christian community – to be a part of church in all of it’s imperfection stuck and I keep saying these vows.

I get excited to say those words – to get my hands wet – to smell the oil. This is who we are – this is who we profess to be: working towards participation in God’s creation by loving our neighbour, loving creation, loving God, breaking bread, repenting from sin; all with Gods’ help, because we are never going to pull it off on our own.

“Christianity is about water. ‘Everyone who thirsteth, come ye to the waters.’ It’s about baptism… It’s about full immersion, about falling into something elemental and wet. Most of what we do in worldly life is geared toward our staying dry, looking good, not going under. But in baptism, in lakes and rains and tanks and fonts, you agree to do something that’s a little sloppy because at the same time it’s also holy, and absurd. It’s about surrender, giving into all those things we can’t control: it’s a willingness to let go of balance and decorum and get drenched.” (Anne Lamott)

It’s a willingness to let go of balance and decorum and get drenched.

And I want to invite us to do this now. On this the celebration of our Lords Baptism – I want to invite us to remember our own – even if the words that you might have said at yours were different and if you have not yet chosen to be baptised or aren’t even sure whether or not you want to – see if there is something here that resonates with you see if there is something in these vows that you are willing to try.

Please turn to the Bapitsmal Covenant:

The Baptismal Covenant

Do you believe in God the Father?
I believe in God,
The Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?

I believe in God the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?
I will, with God’s help!

Will you persevere in resisting evil and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
I will, with God’s help!

Will you proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ?
I will, with God’s help!

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbour as yourself?
I will, with God’s help!

Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
I will, with God’s help!

Will you strive to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation, and respect, sustain and renew the life of the Earth?
I will, with God’s help!

Holy God, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon these your servants the forgiveness of sin, and have raised them to the new life of grace. Sustain us, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give us inquiring and discerning hearts, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works.