Monday, 11 February 2013

Two Calls: Homilies on the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany


First, at our 830 service, A Call to Duty on the Occasion of Michael Joseph Donner's Baptism into the Church of God with reference to "The Ministration of Holy Baptism to Children to be Used in the Church" (The Book of Common Prayer, Anglican Book Centre, 1962), p523ff and The Gospel, p524 (Mk 10.13-16): 
Anthony and Catherine are doing their job in bringing Mikey to Jesus this morning. And Jesus will, indeed, touch him by receiving him, embracing him with arms of mercy, giving him the blessing of eternal life and making him a partaker of his everlasting kingdom. 
It doesn’t stop here, of course. Mikey has not just been "done." It begins.
It is clear that baptism is an initiation into a lifelong battle against indwelling sin, the world, and the devil, requiring God's constant grace and biblical encouragement. It is not a once-and-for-all pseudo-magical charm which guarantees salvation by virtue of the external act, but (as the BCP Catechism puts it), "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace." (The Anglican Doctrine of Baptism, Lee Gatiss, www.reformationanglicanism.blogspot.com/)
Once Catherine, Anthony and the Godparents make the promises and the profession of the Christian faith and Mikey is baptised, formally received and grafted into this branch of the Congregation of Christ’s flock and signed with the cross, the Duties of Christian parents and Godparents begin. Being on duty in this way means this little guy will receive what Lee Gatiss describes as "the tremendous blessing of being baptised as an infant and brought up to know and love the Lord Jesus from an early age," so that one day, when he is ready, Mikey will make his own promises and profession of faith in Jesus, thus confirming the blessing of eternal life and that he is a partaker of Christ’s everlasting kingdom. 
The rest of us have a part to play, too. We must never rebuke people like Anthony and Catherine whenever they bring their little ones to meet with Jesus here even those little ones fuss and are noisy. Jesus forbids it. Because if the kingdom of God is to be received as a little child, there will always be some fuss and noise because little children live out loud. If we grown-ups really want to receive the kingdom of God, perhaps we need to be more like them and live our lives out louder in worship, too. 
Then, at our 1030, A Call to Observe a Holy Lent with reference to Isa 6.1-13, 1 Cor 15.1-11 and Luke 5.1-11—listen here (until around the end of August, 2013, when it will be rotated off the list) .