Last Sunday, I baptised my first child for 14 months. I have another on the day this sermon is read or listened to. Then in July, I will be baptising twin boys of a couple married in one of my churches a couple of years ago. Baptism in my parishes is back. Today I am reflecting on baptism via today’s reading from Acts - as Philip meets the Ethiopian Eunuch.
When was the last time you thought about your baptism? Did you think about it this past week? This past month? Do you remember it?
I want to talk about baptism as something more than what happens when we baptize during Sunday worship. I want us to think about baptism as something that is happening all the time.
“Look here is water. What is to prevent me from being baptised?”
I wonder what the eunuch was thinking? What did he want for his life? What was he hoping for? What thirst took him to those waters? I wonder if there were parts of his life that needed to go, needed to drown and die, so that something new could arise. I wonder if there were parts of him waiting and wanting to come to life?
More than that, I wonder how you would answer those questions today.
Baptism doesn’t happen just in the font at the back of the church. We’ve been taught and come to believe there is only one baptism in the church. And I think that is right, but I want to put the emphasis on “in the church.” In the church there is only one baptism. In life we are baptised over and over and over again.
- Every time we come to those places in our life, those people, and those relationships, that open to us and invite us to be more fully ourselves, we are being baptised.
- Every time we experience something that cleanses our eyes and we see more clearly, we are being baptised.
- Every time something happens in our heart and we love more deeply, we are being baptised.
- Every time we begin to live from a new place of wisdom or gratitude, we are being baptised.
The water of baptism is not contained solely in the fonts of our churches. The world is our baptismal font and our relationships, the people in our lives, our experiences are the holy waters in which we are baptised.
So, I wonder for you today, what baptismal water is before you?
What parts of your life need to be washed, renewed, healed? What is waiting to be born and brought to fruition? What parts of you need to die and drown, to be let go of so that something new can arise?
Even as our physical body needs water to survive, grow, and remain healthy, so does our soul. We know this. There are times when we drink deeply of life and we’re in the flow. Life is vibrant, fruitful, beautiful. We’re swimming in the baptismal waters of this world. And there are those other times when life feels desolate and dry. We feel parched and empty. We’ve stepped out of the water. We’ve forgotten our baptism. Our soul is thirsty for meaning, purpose, direction, and it’s time to return to the baptismal waters.
Baptisms always happen in community and in relationship with one another. No one gets baptized alone or in isolation. We guide and help each other into the holy waters of life. That’s what I told the first fifteen family and friends of that young lad, Wilf, last week at Powick. When we baptize in the church, it is the community that surrounds the baptismal candidate and vows to support that one in his or her life in Christ. “We will,” the congregation declared in support as they hugged at a socially appropriate distance manner as we all welcomed Wilf into the Light of Christ. And so, it is with our baptisms in the World.
“As they were going along the road they came to some water.”
That is not a story about only Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. It is not exclusive to them. It’s your story and my story. The road of our life is filled with watering holes. “Look, here is water!”
- What if we began to look at the people in our lives, our relationships, our experiences as baptismal water?
- What will you do when you come to that next pool of baptismal water?
- What does it hold for you?
- How might God be enlarging, awakening, transforming, or deepening your life?
- What is to prevent you and me from being baptized again and again and again?
Nothing. Not a thing. “Look, here is some water!”
Sing (to yourself) the great Advent hymn - as we still look forward in faith: On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry. What does that hymn say to you today? How do you answer the questions I am posing to you in my sermon?