Saturday, January 19, 2013

Baptismal Promises

The Baptism of the Lord
Luke 3: 15-16, 21-22

Today we celebrate the transition point in the Life of Jesus.  Today marks the end of Jesus’ private life, the end of his life as carpenter, the end of his life of obscurity; living quietly among the members of his family within his community. 

It is a day celebrating a new beginning.  The beginning of Jesus’ life as preacher and teacher, the beginning of his public ministry: The beginning of his journey from Nazareth to Jerusalem, to the fulfillment of his mission.

This is also the turning point from the old to the new – the ending of old Covenant of God with the People Israel to the beginning of the New Covenant in Jesus Christ to all of God’s children.

In Isaiah God speaks, “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased. . .”
While in Luke the heavenly voice echoes, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The God of the Old Covenant is the God of the New Covenant.  The heavenly voice of God proclaims Jesus as His chosen one, His beloved in whom He is well pleased. 

This proclamation was important in the culture of Jesus’ time. A father needed to make a claim of paternity or else a child would be considered illegitimate: unable to inherit and partake in the life of the community.  A father’s claim of a child brought honor and standing to the child among the people: in the family and in the community.   With this claim the child’s official life began.

The baptism of Jesus should remind us of our own baptism, though most of us were probably too young to remember such an important event in our life.  For in our baptism, we too are claimed by God as his child.  While a heavenly voice does not come down - it is the Church, in the priest or deacon, who claims us in the name of Jesus Christ; recognizing us, in the family and the community that we are now a child of God, heirs of his eternal kingdom.

It is a new beginning of our life in Christ with all the honors and standings that it brings to us as members of the Body of Christ, children of God.  It also carries with it responsibilities.

As members of the Body of Christ we are a chosen people called to live as followers of The Way.  In our baptism we are called to live out our promise to reject Satan and all his empty promises.  We are called to believe in God and in Christ Jesus, the Word made Flesh, the Holy Spirit and all that His Church believes and teaches.  And in doing so, we ask for forgiveness of our sins; looking forward to the Hope of the resurrection and eternal life with God.

In our baptism, we are called to live in the love of God and the love of all our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We are called to continual conversion and a closer relationship with God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  As children of God, brothers and sisters in Christ: called to love as we are loved, we find inspiration through the Spirit - to live - in thought, word and action - our baptismal promises.

As we are claimed by God in our baptism, we are commissioned and called to live as Jesus taught: To love one another, to care for one another, to treat each other with dignity and respect as we want love, care and respect.  For as one suffers and is diminished, we all suffer and are diminished.

For us, our baptism is not an event that happened in the past, but a continual way of being, - a continual beginning, - in which we live - as children of God, -
·         seeking His face, -
·         believing in His promise –
·         loving as we are loved -
·         and living in this life
-       with faith in the heavenly life to come.
     Deacon Don Ron

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