Sunday, 2 January 2011

A Short Sermon on the Occasion of Emma Elizabeth's Baptism

What a great day for a baptism—the 9th day of Christmas. A new year begins! New beginnings. Fresh starts. A new child is adopted in to the family of God. In the church calendar New Year’s Day is also the feast of the Naming of Jesus, the day when His parents took Him to church to  present Him to the LORD. That Nigel and Tobi are presenting Emma Elizabeth to LORD today fits nicely with that. And we’re also celebrating Epiphany when Jesus was revealed to the Gentiles as Son of God and Saviour. That is the task to which Tobi and Nigel are committing themselves today. With God’s help, to reveal Jesus to Emma in their parenting, make Jesus manifest in Emma’s life. 
John 1:1-14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God and his name is Jesus. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. This church came into being through Him. Our lives. Emma Elizabeth Pimblett came into being through him. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 
Just as John was sent by God as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. For every child, also, there is a man and a woman sent from God, his or her parents, as witnesses also to testify to the light, who is Jesus, so that their children might believe through them. They themselves are not the light, but they came to testify to the light who is Jesus. Because to all who receive him, who believe in his name, he gives power to become children of God, who are born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 
Matthew 1:18-23 
Jesus was born into a human family, Joseph was told to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Today Nigel and Toby are taking an important step to ensure that as far as it is in their power Emma Elizabeth Pimblett will be one of His people so she can be saved from her sins. 
The LORD also said through the prophet that Jesus was to be called Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” This morning’s baptism Nigel and Tobi promise that, with God’s help, they will bring Emma up to know that. 
Luke 2:21-28 
After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.’
Even the parents of the One through whom all things came into being, the true light, full of glory, grace and truth, who saves his people from their sins, the Messiah, the LORD, the ruler and shepherd of God’s people, to whom the Magi paid homage and presented treasures, brought their child to go through the rites that made him part of God’s family which is now the Church. So what Nigel and Tobi are doing today is good. It is also smart parenting because they’re availing themselves of the best parenting resource there is for bringing kids up in this, or any other age. 
Tobi and Nigel may not have to run to Egypt from Herod, but the fact is, as we will shortly hear in the Baptismal service: Satan, the spiritual forces of wickedness and the evil powers of this world are still at work doing their best to corrupt and destroy the creatures of God. The only way to overcome all of that is to turn to Jesus Christ, accept Him as Saviour, put your whole trust in His grace and love and obey Him as your LORD-just as the baptism service says. That is why it is so important that the baptized child is nurtured in the faith and life of the Christian community (which is the Church). Nigel and Tobi will promise to do this, with God’s help, in a few moments. Why? Because this where Jesus is to be found. To put your trust in anything or anyone else is to build your child's spiritual house—the house upon which her salvation depends—on sand. This where Jesus is worshipped, where we learn how to live as His followers, where He feeds our souls in the Eucharist. 
When it was time to baptize the child; and she was called Emma, … they brought her to St Barnabas to present her to the Lord and the priest took her in his arms and praised God for new birth, life, love, for what He’s about to do in Emma’s life through Jesus, because to all who receive him, who believe in his name he gives power to become children of God, who are born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. On the 25th of September Emma was born into the Pimblett family. Today Emma is formally adopted into God’s family, the Church, to be born not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of human will, but of the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ.