In Matthew’s Gospel, at the end of chapter 3, we have read the story of Jesus’ baptism in the river Jordan. This is traditionally a time for new Christians to be baptised too, and last Sunday at St C’s we welcomed a little one into the family of the church.
I want to think a bit about baptisms. When Jesus was baptised there was a voice speaking from heaven over him – this is my beloved son, in whom I am well-pleased. In the first century, when a tradesman wanted to introduce his adult son, apprentice-ship finished, to his community, these are the words he would say. This is my beloved son, in whom I am well-pleased. Jesus’ earthly Dad, Joseph, who had trained Jesus as a carpenter wasn’t around – perhaps he had died. Imagine then hearing God speak these words from heaven!
We may never have heard God speaking over us in that way – if it sounded out in our church everyone would be looking to see who was being silly with the microphone!
But I truly believe that it does please God that we come for baptism, and that we bring our children too.
Christian baptism isn’t limited in time – once we have been baptised and joined the church, we are members for life. Our commitment, or that made on our behalf if we were christened as babies, is for all our present life, and extends into eternity.
Baptism is about intention. Intention to follow God no matter what, to renounce all evil, and to let Jesus be our guide. This doesn’t stop when we retire. It doesn’t stop when we can no longer care for ourselves. It doesn’t stop when we no longer remember who we are. Just as we acknowledge God in our baptism, God acknowledges us. and no matter how frail and forgetful we are, we are still God’s beloved child, in whom God is well pleased.