, , , , , ,

Today in worship we recalled the baptism of Jesus.  We focused on the declaration of John the Baptist that Jesus would be the one to baptize us with fire, and the promise from Isaiah 43 that God would be with us when we pass through the waters.  We were reminded that baptism is not for the faint of heart.  We, who submit to baptism are reminded that we too will drink deeply from the same cup from which Jesus drank…which is why it is so important that we be baptized with fire as well as with water.  The baptized life is not retirement to the comfy white clouds while we strum on our harps, the baptized life is about serving, loving, and living just as Jesus served and loved and lived… we too will drink from the cup.

google images

When we go to be baptized, or bring our children to be baptized, we must do so with a profound understanding that this is an action that strengthens the church.  Where baptism and its vows are taken seriously, the Holy Spirit is freed to act, and we, like Jesus, emerge from the water, with the blessing of God sounding in our ears and the calling of God filling our hearts.  (adapted from the notes for the Baptism of Jesus Sunday in The Worship Sourcebook)

One of things that I find very sad among those denominations (like mine) that practice infant baptism is that unless that baptism is taken seriously for what it is….an action that strengthens the church and which plunges the baptized into the water and into the fire….it becomes meaningless.  As we sung the final hymn this morning, I was struck during the chorus that in baptism Jesus Christ must be praised… and I was reminded of a story told me by a friend of the baptism of her friend’s infant daughter.  Underlying the humor of  this story is a deep and profound sadness, and a shallowness of understanding that we the church need to overcome.

During the baptism my friend was sitting with the baby’s older brother, and as the Prayer of Thanksgiving over the water unfolded, the boy became increasingly agitated.  Finally he asked, “Why is that man angry with the baby?”  “He’s not angry with the baby,” said my friend.  Still worried the boy responded, “then why does he keep saying ‘Jesus Christ?'”

How sad that this boy knew the glorious words “Jesus Christ” only as a curse.  This is the name above all names, the name by which we are saved, THE NAME OF OUR LORD!  When ever we hear that name we should be praising God and giving him glory.

Let us work to recapture the full joyous understanding of what our baptism means.  Let us remember that as we enter the waters of baptism that we share the death that Jesus would die and God spoke to us saying, “fear not for I have redeemed you.” Let us also remember that when we rose from the waters of baptism, we shared in the victory that Jesus had won over death and that God says to us, “you are my beloved child, with whom I am well pleased.”

Remember your baptism
and give thanks
May Jesus Christ be praised

When morning gilds the skies my heart awakening cries
May Jesus Christ be praised
Alike at work and prayer, to Jesus I repair
May Jesus Christ be praised

To God the Word on high, the hosts of angels cry
May Jesus Christ be praised.
Let mortals too, upraise the voice in hymns of praise,
May Jesus Christ be praised.

Be this while life is mine, my canticle divine
May Jesus Christ be praised
be this the eternal song, through all the ages on
May Jesus Christ be praised!