Sunday 18 January 2015

First Sunday after the Epiphany – The Baptism of the Lord-Br Andrew

Andre-Rublev's Saviour

Homily preached at Warrimoo on Sunday 11th January 2015 smatterings of Br. Luke as gleaned by Br. Andrew: 

First Sunday after the Epiphany – The Baptism of the Lord

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

Genesis is a story of Beginnings that is what the word ‘genesis’ means, it is not a history of the beginning of the universe, it is a story about the first Beginning, it is Theology this time of the first Jordan:

Our world was once a ball of water with the Holy Spirit, the ruach hakodesh hovering over it, waiting to draw living beings from beneath its dark depths. 
Very much like the river Jordan, the new born earth was a source of cleansing and reconciliation, passing from within itself all manner of life forms, baptising them into life. A life which began perfectly. God said everything was ‘good’.
Even from before that first day when God created light before ever the sun set or rose, what God created was good.
From the beginning of that first day as evening became morning everything associated with that new born earth was declared ‘good’.

But then came ‘History’

“I don’t usually preach on Paul” or words to that effect Luke said last week when he proceeded to do just that.

“We have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit” 

Paul has arrived in Ephesus to find disciples of John the Baptist.

John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance, ritual bathing was common to Judaism therefore when John had baptised  it was not by any name or into any name that he baptised them, nor into any creed; they remained Jews yet cleansed of their sins awaiting  the coming of Jesus. 

Though their reply to Paul was that they had been baptised into John’s Baptism, John himself would be the first to say that his baptism was not his own but God’s for as Paul reminded them, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.’ Subsequently they have been converted to the Lord Jesus, since, as per above it says that Paul arrived in Ephesus to find 12 disciples. So it is Paul’s words about the Lord Jesus, in whom they believed, who had come after John that must have inspired them to immediate baptism and to receive the Holy Spirit.

Notice, though, that Paul baptises them into the name of “Jesus”, not into the name of the “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. Having done this the Holy Spirit descended upon them and they begin prophesying and speaking in other languages. Almost as a tag Paul adds that altogether there were about 12 of them – 12 new disciples of Jesus.

Jesus had come to John at the Jordan to be baptised by him, Jesus himself received the baptism of John, and from Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 3:14) we know that John demurred about the situation and said that it ought to have been the other way around. The Evangelist Mark uses it so that the Father can rend the heavens by the Spirit with the affirmation that Jesus is His own beloved Son – this same spirit which filled those disciples once they were baptised in the name of Jesus.

For those of us baptised by Trinitarian baptism we may have never experienced the ecstasy of speaking in tongues or prophesying but Scripture tells us that these experiences would not always occur (I Corinthians 13:8) and will cease altogether. We know by Faith that through baptism we are sealed by the Holy Spirit and hence become part of the Body of Christ and one with the Holy Trinity and one another as they are One.(John 17:11,22)

That Sunday we also heard about the differing sacramental traditions of the Roman and Protestant Churches, whether there are 7 or 2…

We believe there are 2, those in which Jesus participated in himself Baptism and Communion.

We also debated the differences between ‘Believers baptism’ and ‘Infant baptism’ that the former defines Church membership or is a Rite of Initiation and the latter marks a Rite of Passage. One depends for its upkeep – so to speak, on the child’s parents or family until they reach a conversion experience of their own and the other begins with that conversion experience.

It is almost but not quite like the Baptism of John and the Baptism of Jesus??