“We are the Beloved of God! Our identity as children of God through Baptism.”

A sermon/reflection for The Baptism of Christ/The First Sunday after Epiphany – Year B

The readings for this Sunday are those of Baptism of Christ:

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

You might like to use the link below to find the above readings, and click on any of the reading above that you wish to use: http://www.katapi.org.uk/CommonWorship/CWLectionarySelV.php

Collect of the day

Let us first spend a few moments in silence to centre ourselves,
to gather ourselves in our souls,
to come before the Lord just as we are with our joys and sorrows,
our hopes and our fears, our loves and our pains.
Let us just focus our minds and hearts on Jesus
who is the answer for every problem.
Let us pray that the Spirit will work through our lives
to bring Christ to the world.

Silence is kept

Eternal Father,
who at the baptism of Jesus
revealed him to be your Son,
anointing him with the Holy Spirit:
grant to us, who are born again by water and the Spirit,
that we may be faithful to our calling as your adopted children
and that we may always recognize Jesus as our Lord
and know ourselves to be your beloved children;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Amen.

Prayer before the Sermon

Loving Heavenly Father,
we thank you for the words you have given us today.
We know they are words of life and salvation.
Open our hearts Father,
touch our souls,
help us to respond to your word
and know that you are indeed our Lord and Saviour.
May we experience in our hearts
your love and your presence always.

Amen.

A homily based on the readings of today is given below:

“We are the Beloved of God!
Our identity as children of God through Baptism.”

The gospel reading of today reminds us of the baptism of Jesus. It is a very important celebration in our Christian calendar. Like at Epiphany when Jesus was manifested to the whole world through the Three Kings (The Maji), at baptism once again Jesus is manifested to the world when Jesus was already about 30 years old and about to begin his public ministry.

The manifestation at Bethlehem as well as at the baptism confirm the identity of Jesus. He is not just any man. He is also the Beloved Son of God.

This identification, or manifestation of the identity of Jesus, is especially significant as it clearly tells us what Baptism signifies and means for anyone. We read that when Jesus was baptised a voice from heaven was heard that said:

“Thou art my Beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased!” (Mk 1.11)

That is what baptism does to us – it reveals to us our identity as to who we really are as human beings, that we are truly God’s children. It is baptism that tells us who we really are.

We are not just children of our parents. We are not just children of this world.

We are not just anyone without an identity or name. we are God’s Beloved children and we are loved and forgiven by God unconditionally and continuously!

Among my greatest delights in priestly ministry is to accompany parents as they prepare their child’s christening.

I’m awfully sad to realise that not all parents in the last 50 or more years have taken their children to church for their christening in the romantic and often mistaken notion of leaving their children free to choose themselves, forgetting that baptism is not an opportunity to choose, rather it is a moment to receive the free and unconditional gift of God’s love and to discover our identity as the Beloved of God. And parents would be offering their children the greatest gift after life through Baptism that confirms their identity as God’s beloved children.

I’m not baptised!

As I prepare couples for marriage, often I come across someone who says I’m not baptised. I say, “would you like to be baptised before the wedding. After all, what sense is there to marry in church if one does not even believe in God and is not baptised?” Sometimes, the person says, “No thank you, may be another time!” And when will be that another time? I have several cases also of parents bringing their children to baptism even though one of them is not baptised.

Our identity as Christians!

This is the tragedy of today. We have let go of our ancient, traditional, religious roots that gave us our identity as human beings and Christians, citizens of the earth and citizens of heaven. And now, many of us do not anymore know who we really are or where we are going.

We wonder, where has the so-called freedom seeking culture of ours or the ideology of free markets and pleasure driven consumerism taken us? What are we become without God? Are we really happy? What is freedom if it is not living what our Creator has imprinted on our souls, that we are children loved and that we have a destiny beyond this life?

The other day while I was discussing this very topic with someone who was experiencing the problem of not having been christened when she was small, spoke of her dad who had a severe accident leaving him nearly paralysed neck down. And yet, he said, “I’m alive! There must be a reason why I’m still alive! God must have some plans for me!”

That is what Baptism does.

It not only protects you in a spiritual way but also gives you an identity in your soul, a deep, quiet relationship with God even in the worst of times, an inner, spiritual identity that reminds you that you are a child of God no matter what happens.

[Revd Dr ST Mattapally, Rector, Springline Parish, Diocese of Lincoln]

Pause to pray …

A Prayer you can say now:

Lord Jesus,
I believe you are the Son of God.
Thank you for becoming one of us.
Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins.
Thank you for rising from the dead
to give me hope and the gift of eternal life.

I repent of my sins
and invite you into heart and life
as my Lord and Saviour.
Please grant me your Holy Spirit
so that I may know you, love you
and follow you every day of my life.

Amen.