Sermon The Baptism of the Lord January 7, 2018

 

Genesis 1:1-5                     Psalm 29                 Acts 19:1-7                             Mark 1:4-11

May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Genesis story of Creation that we started to read today talks of God’s power.  God speaks and it happens that’s power.  Harry Potter has to wave a wand as well as chant an incantation.  God just says and it is.  God’s Word is powerful, God’s Word is Jesus His Son.

The story starts off in the Dark.  What is it about the Dark ?  Well we creatures have a natural instinct of self-preservation.  We instinctively look for danger with the object of course of thwarting it.  But in the dark we can’t see.  We can’t see good things, like supper or our bank accounts or as my wife says how absolutely handsome I am.  On the other hand we can’t see if something or somebody is lurking around the corner or behind that door threatening us.  So our nerves tighten-up, we are nervous about the unknown.  Even a simple thing like walking in our own homes in the dark makes us wary as we try to feel where that bottom step or that table might be, to avoid disaster.  We don’t like the Dark.  We don’t know what is in the blackness.  Black is the colour of ignorance and evil and I bet that has a whole lot to do with the unjustifiable subconscious cause of racial prejudice, the fear of the unknown and the different,

On the other hand young people especially like a fright.  The scary movie is a good example.  Occasionally we like to be frightened, to live on the edge.  If the dark is where naughty things live sometimes we like to try them out, it’s the thrill of the forbidden fruit, the lure of the unknown, which may lead to danger that excites us.  And we flatter ourselves in those circumstances that we can triumph over the danger or the evil that lays in front of us.  It’s why we sin.  We want to live on the edge knowing that like Wonder Woman or James Bond we will foil the evil and come out smelling like roses.  We don’t sin because we are evil, far from it, we are essentially innocent, we were born that way, just like the Baby Jesus.  Original Sin is the propensity to Sin, not an accumulation of evil that emanates from the act of love in which you were conceived – Sin cannot come from Love, you were conceived in Love.  We sin because we want to test our mettle, and really want to show that we can overcome any evil, we can set it aside, put it down at will.  But this behaviour can become an addiction.  And anyone who has faced an addiction will tell you just can’t put it down.

In our hearts we always want peace and security that’s why we clamour for the light.

Imagine for a moment if God had skipped Day One and not created light.  Where would we be, what would we look like ?  We would never know because we couldn’t see !  But God has been kind He created light – we know who we are – but because we like a thrill we still invite danger into our lives, the propensity to sin, to indulge in a secret pleasure, a lust, a fantasy, revenge for some perceived wrong, or breaking the rules just for the fun of it.  We still tend to cheer for Ocean’s 11 and Captain Jack Sparrow of the Pirates of the Caribbean because they represent a side of us we would love to live.  However a lot of that is done in our formative years, in the years we are trying to find ourselves and to test ourselves.  But old habits die hard.  And unless we train ourselves out of them somebody else will with prison bars, divorce court or the condemnation of the rest of society.

God brought Light into our lives when Jesus Christ His Son entered them.  Remember He went through the same temptations that we face;  the temptation to covet material things and comforts;  the temptation to be idolised by others, garnering praise where none is due;  the temptation for power, wanting to rule the roost over others imposing our will for our own good and not for the best interests of others.

God brought Hope into our lives when Jesus Christ His Son entered them.  No longer would impossible unforgiving laws be imposed on us, laws which would always condemn us because we just can’t keep them all.  Jesus brought forgiveness and redemption.  Jesus does not condemn but only asks that we learn from our errors and do not repeat them  (John 8:11).  That’s what drove the Pharisees crazy, their whole lives were built on punctiliously keeping the Law, Jesus said that the Law was made for Man, not Man for the Law  (Mark 2:27).  The Law serves us, we are not servants of the Law.  We therefore have Hope.

God brought Salvation into our lives when Jesus Christ His Son entered them.  Jesus bore the weight of our sins so that when we come to the Final Judgement we will not face eternal Damnation, that’s called Salvation.

We know Jesus has the power to do all these things because at His Baptism He received God’s affirmation  “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased”.  Jesus was baptised as a human being to mark the commencement of and dedication to His earthly Ministry.  The Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, alighted on Him at His Baptism to impart guidance and spiritual strength to Him.  It’s the same for us at our Baptisms, when we move into a whole new way of existence, renouncing the bad things of the past and committing to a life of service to others, and purity.  John’s baptism was one exclusively of repentance but not a commissioning empowered by the Holy Spirit, that is what Jesus brought into the ritual of Christian initiation.  Other religions have baptism as one of their rites but only Christians receive the Holy Spirit.  Christian Baptism is our passport out of darkness into the Light of Christ.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

 

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