From the Very Rev. Kristi Maulden
Baptism of our Lord
This Sunday is the Feast Day celebrating the Baptism of our Lord Jesus. We will hear the Gospel account of the encounter between Jesus and John at the Jordan river. This is Matthew’s description of the event and include John’s reluctance to baptize Jesus, claiming that it was Jesus who should be baptizing him. It is one of the rare explicit glimpses of the Trinity in action: God speaking from the heavens, the Holy Spirit descending and Jesus being named the Beloved Son. Three separate persons but they act in unity.
This day is also one of the Sundays that our Book of Common Prayer points to as most appropriate for baptisms. The BCP lists Easter Vigil, Pentecost, and All Saints’ Day as the other three occasions that are highly appropriate for baptism. And, if on one these days there are no candidates for baptism, we are encouraged to recite our own renewal of baptism vows. Why should we be so instructed? It may seem that once we are baptized, we are then done. We have been initiated into God’s church and marked as Christ’s own forever. However, the work of God in us and of our own pilgrimage is never finished. And we need to be reminded of that on a regular basis.
When we are baptized and again when we are confirmed, we make promises. If you were baptized as an infant in the Episcopal tradition, your parents and godparents made these promises on your behalf. These vows shape our journey as Christians. The very first promise asks that we be faithful in worshipping God together as a community and partaking of Holy Communion. This coming together is not for our building up alone, but for the lifting up of the whole congregation. We carry each other to God by our prayers and by our presence. The second promise is a call to resist evil and to repent when we fall into sin. Christians are confessional people. We strive to recognize our own sinfulness first and be those who speak out as well to the evils we see around us in the world.
We are called by the third promise to proclaim the Good News. There are so many ways to do this in our lives. We can speak of our faith and tell our story to others. We can live out our lives in love and service to others. We can invite others to church to come and hear the hope presented every Sunday. And this promise is followed by the one in which say that we will seek and serve Christ in all persons. This one may prove the most difficult as it is far easier to judge than it is to always love. The fifth vow asks that we strive for peace and justice in the world. We are called to be agents of reconciliation and to stand with those who have no voice. In our affirming these promises, we ask for God’s help. Indeed, it is only through that grace given to us at baptism and throughout our walk with Christ that we have the ability to do these on a daily basis.
This Sunday, as we renew these promises and welcome the newly baptized, consider how the Baptismal Covenant shapes your life. Ask God to help you in the areas that you feel that you fall short, remembering that as individuals we can make an impact, but as a community we can do so much more.