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Wednesday, 7 March 2012

My first 'sermon', given on March 4th 2012

Jesus said,"Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven".

For all of you, all of us, baptism marks the start of a journey of faith, following Jesus and becoming a member of the local and worldwide Christian family. When this ceremony is over, all of us here become your brothers and sisters in Jesus. Indeed, more than that, every baptised Christian throughout the whole world becomes your brother or your sister.

So hands up here anyone who's been baptised? Okay, keep your hands up if you can remember. (Just one or two). We tend to baptise children and babies because we remember what Jesus said about letting the children come to Him, although of course adults can be baptised as well!

Jesus was himself baptised by John the Baptist. The Bible says that when Jesus came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit settled on Him in the form of a dove. At the same time God said: “This is my son.” While Jesus’ relation to God as Son is unique, for Christians baptism means that God has also chosen us as daughters and sons, and knows us intimately like a parent.

So we are called to be baptised as Jesus was. The Bible promises that we also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit within.

Over twenty years ago, I brought my son to be baptised in church. His big sister Rachel who was three, had been baptised herself when she was small. She stood close to the font and saw the water going over James and declared, “He's having a bath!” “Yes”, I replied, “a very special bath.”

Because today, Jesus is with us. So when the water is poured over you on the outside, Jesus is also washing you inside, making all of you completely clean. From that moment on, if you ever fight with your brother or sister, or do anything naughty; if you say sorry to God and the person you hurt and mean it in your heart, God wipes it away as though had never been there. Every time, every day!

Just like father Abraham in our readings, you are setting out on a journey. He didn't know where he was going, neither do we most of the time. Jesus asks all of us simply to follow Him. Happily for us, He walks with us and has left us signposts and a guide book.

You will also be signed with the cross, the sign of our faith. Jesus asks all of us to take up our cross and follow him. One of our hymns today is all about that. The cross shows us that sometimes the way is hard, but Jesus knows all our hopes and fears.

The decision you make today is vitally important and for always; to turn around, to say no to evil, to accept and follow Jesus as your Lord.

After the baptism, you will all get lighted candles, another symbol of Jesus the light of the world. We bear that light to the world.

Jesus bids us shine like a pure, clear light
Like a little candle glowing in the night
In this world of darkness, he bids us shine
You in your small corner, and I in mine.

We thank God for his gift of life, for you, and pray with you as you start on the journey of faith and ask the Church's support.

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