January 13, 2013
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
Today, we’re talking about baptism, and I am delighted that we also get to baptize G today. I’ll start by asking you a question. Who baptized Jesus? …
The way Luke tells the story, John is baptizing people; he gets arrested; then we learn that Jesus was baptized. The text doesn’t actually say that John did the baptizing, but we assume that’s what happened, based on the other gospels. And, no one else was doing it.
Another question: After Jesus was baptized, he was praying. What do you suppose he was praying about? …
In our class, we thought he was praying that he would be able to do what he was sent to do. We also thought he was praying for the people – for us.
It makes sense to us that Jesus would pray for himself. His life, his ministry, his teaching, his death: he wanted to be obedient to God; he wanted to stick to the plan, and it took a lot of prayer.
In praying for us, we’re sure he prayed that people would accept him, that they would see the love and forgiveness of God in what he was doing. We’re sure he prayed that people would change from a focus on doing the right thing in the right way to a focus on enjoying a loving, forgiving relationship with God.
In answer to his prayer, the Holy Spirit descended on him, and a voice came from heaven. “You are my Son. I love you very much. You make me very happy.” The human Jesus needed the reassurance of the presence of God through the Holy Spirit, and that he was doing the right thing.
Isn’t that what we all need? We all want to hear, “You are my child. I love you very much. You make me very happy. What you are doing pleases me.” We have that reassurance in our own baptisms. Any time we wonder if God knows what we are going through; when we wonder if we are doing the right thing; when we wonder if God loves us; we only need to remember that we are baptized.
Throughout his life, G will be able to remember that he is God’s child, that he walks in God’s presence, and that he is doing the right thing. I hope that G will also remember that Jesus prays for him, as he prayed for all of us, as he prayed for himself at the time of his baptism.
Jesus was baptized by John, but really by the Holy Spirit. When we are baptized, although it is our parents and sponsors who present us for baptism, and the pastor who says the words and pours the water on our heads, it is God who is the actor in the event.
When we are baptized as infants, it is our parents and sponsors who make the promises. When anyone is baptized in the congregation, we all make promises to God to help the one who is baptized grow in faith, be present in worship, be able to read the scriptures, learn the basics of the faith.
The Holy Spirit works through parents and sponsors and members of the congregation to help each other grow in faith. It is the Holy Spirit who helps us learn to love and serve others. It is the Holy Spirit who helps us learn to trust God, even when we’d rather trust ourselves. It is the Holy Spirit who helps us remember that everything we have and everything we are comes from God.
Remember you are baptized.
Each week, as you enter and leave worship, dip your finger in the water in the font and make the sign of the cross on your body or forehead, and remember you are baptized.
Remember you are baptized whenever you shower or bathe and feel the water washing over your body.
Remember you are baptized when you confess your sins and receive forgiveness for them.
Remember you are baptized when you plan your budget and when you put your offering in the plate.
Remember you are baptized when you share a meal, a hug, a kind word, a loaf of bread or jar of peanut butter.
Remember, we are God’s beloved children; God is present with us at all times through the Holy Spirit; and God loves us and is pleased with us.
Remember, we are baptized and Jesus prays for us.
Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, help us to remember. Help us to remember that we are baptized and we belong to you and you love us. Help us to remember you pray for us. Help us to remember, and be more like you each day. Amen