Isaiah 43:1-7 Psalm 29
Acts 8:14-17 Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Baptism is the first sacrament we receive, and that is precisely right to be a Christian..
Now a mundane illustration; you know those television commercials where there is a filthy sink, or bathtub or shower door or toilet, and a young lady comes along with a sponge, smiling, and with a quick squeeze on a bottle cuts through the grime with one easy swipe, still smiling. That’s what baptism is about. Now I will give a shout-out to Pinesol because they are the first advertiser to have a man clean up the mess in the bathroom and he is so happy to do it, he even dances. Ladies he is probably the answer to your dreams, eh ! I always question why the plumbing fixtures got into such disgusting shape in the first place. What were those young women doing to let it go to pieces like that ?
So I have to ask why does God let us get our lives in such a mess ? We have all done stuff that looks pretty messy, and if you deny that you need a good long chat with yourself and then with God. I think we make mistakes in our lives so that we and others can learn. Through that learning process societies have arisen and laid down rules and laws by which we live in relative peace. I said relative because we still have a long way to go, we are not at peace. And not everything can be written down in a law, a lot of how we govern ourselves is through our own sense of morality, which we learnt by interacting with our siblings and friends on the playground. A Tim’s tv ad has a little boy asking if he can have a different sister. His mum says “No”. Like us he will have to accept people he is not that keen about. Through experiences like that we develop an ethical system whereby we just know what is right and what is wrong.
God didn’t implant in our brains how we should behave or even do anything, we don’t have a programmed computer chip in our heads, but God gave us a brain that we can train. God knows we are slow learners, so we grow up slowly, slower than every other creature, because we have a higher calling than them. We are called to discern and to lead as God’s helpers in managing this world. We need years of experience to help us be the people God wants us to be.
Well I recall another advertisement where the parents video their young children going wild in the bathroom making an awful mess. And they upload the video to the Internet with much joy and anticipation, and they get a good response. The parents smile and are proud of how creative their children are and they know ‘scrubbing bubbles’ will eventually put it all right.
Through baptism God cleans up our mess, still smiling. God has a sense of humour and I think God is amused by us and the pickles we get in, after all we really are nothing other than kids in the bathroom having fun and learning. All the while God is smiling.
Why does God smile ? Well let’s go back to our first reading. God says “I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine”. Hear that ? Through baptism we are redeemed and we belong to God. And moreover God says “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you”. We are never without God, even when in life we feel that we are drowning. Never give up, God is our lifebelt. Why would God be there through all our problems ? Easy, God says “Because you are precious in my sight, and honoured, and I love you”. Wow ! We are precious (not Golem precious) but truly precious to God. We are honoured, the way we honour our children, we too are honoured by God. Who doesn’t boast about their children and their grandchildren ? We all do because we love them regardless of their failings. Yes, we get disappointed but they are ours, what else can a loving parent do ? And this is at the core of the way God relates to us. God says “I love you”. Wow that hits home ! I love you. Ours is a God of love. Not a god who will destroy His children, nor a god who wants us to kill others, that is, those who don’t share our belief. We are to treat others the way God treats us. That’s difficult I know because we are not God. But try and think of that little boy who says “Can I have a different sister ?” No, we can’t but we can learn to accept then perhaps love the one we are stuck with. And most times it’s a blessing to have that sister who started out on such rocky ground with us.
Baptism the first sacrament we receive clears away the mess we have previously made and will make in the future, and it signs us into a membership better than Costco or the Shoppers’ Drug Mart Optimum or Air Miles, this is a membership in which you don’t get discounts or points (which are so difficult to redeem anyway) this membership gets you forgiveness whenever you go wrong. You’re in ! For life ! For eternal life ! A word of caution, it’s best to keep your membership up to date and current. If you let it lapse it takes a while to get back on track but you can because you are loved. We come to baptism ready to receive cleansing, membership and love, not from some large institution but from God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We were born with our own spirits, at baptism we receive the Holy Spirit our wonderful guide for the rest of our lives. The Holy Spirit alighted on Jesus at His Baptism, and on you at yours. You have been baptised. Listen to the Holy Spirit within you and then whatever you do, it won’t need cleaning up by our ever smiling, ever loving God – until it does – then He will. Amen.