St. Mary's Church

Baptism of Christ

Baptism of Christ

9 Jan 2021 • General news

Genesis 1. 1-5

1In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Acts 19. 1-7

1While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the inland regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. 2He said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?’ They replied, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ 3Then he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ They answered, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ 4Paul said, ‘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.’ 5On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied – 7altogether there were about twelve of them.

Mark 1. 4-11

4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’

9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

 Thought for the Feast of the Baptism of Christ (10.1.21) by Malcolm Tyler

When I conduct a baptism out of the main service I read the few verses from St Mark’s gospel which tell of the baptism of Jesus. As you will have seen that passage ends with a voice from heaven declaring ‘you are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased’. I move straight into a short address which usually begins by me saying that I doubt that when I have baptised the child that a voice will be heard saying much the same thing, though maybe it is a thought echoed by the parents and friends gathered - obviously substituting the word Son as appropriate. You may imagine my surprise, and that of the congregation too, when at the last baptism I conducted, a rumble of thunder was heard within a few moments of the baptism itself! I suspect it will be a family memory for a long time!

2020 saw very few baptisms at St Mary’s because of the Covid pandemic but, of course, just because children have not been baptised does not mean that they are somehow outside of the love that God has for all of us. God is well pleased with us whether we have been baptised or not. Jesus did not need to be baptised by John in token of a repentance of sins as he had not sinned but he went through the rite to associate himself with humanity in a very special way. God’s love for him was complete and I’d not depend on his sinless nature. That love for us is not dependent either on what we have or have not done. The fact is that we all sin but God still loves us. As we begin 2021 it is maybe good to remember this fact, especially when life still seems a little bleak. Whatever happens during the year, he will be with us, both in our struggles and our joys. Only yesterday (Tuesday) I was pleased to hear of the first two members of our congregation receiving their vaccination appointments and no doubt others will have received theirs by the time you read this. This has to be a very great joy as it signals in a very specific way the beginning of the end of this blight on our lives. God has remained with us through it, he will remain with us to the end of it and he will be with us as we emerge to the other side - and why? Simply because he loves us and is well pleased with us.

Intercessions

Jesus calls us out of darkness into his marvellous light.

Washed clean by the waters of baptism,

let us pray that we may live the life to which he has called us.

Lord Jesus, eternal Word,

proclaimed as the Christ by John the forerunner,

hear us as we pray for all who proclaim your word.We give thanks for all that Dmitry has given to us at St Mary’s during his time with us and pray for him, Olya, Olivia and Thomas as they move to Woking and as Dmitry takes up his post of Vicar of St Mary’s, Horsell.

Lord of truth,

hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, baptizing with the Spirit and with fire,

strengthen us to withstand all the trials of our faith.We pray for all who find this time of pandemic difficult to bear.May we have the faith to trust to your good purposes, never giving up hope of an end to this crisis.We also pray for those involved in education at this time either as teacher, student or support staff.May the difficulties of this term be resolved as quickly as possible.

Lord of truth,

hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, bringing forgiveness to all who repent,

teach your Church dependence on your grace.

Lord of truth,

hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, fulfilment of the promises of old,

give hope to all who suffer or are ignored.

Lord of truth,

hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, beloved Son of the Father,

anoint us with the gifts of your Holy Spirit …

Lord of truth,

hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, bringer of hope,

share with all the faithful the riches of eternal life …

Lord of truth,

hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus Christ,

in you the Father makes us and all things new.

Transform the poverty of our nature

by the riches of your grace,

and in the renewal of our lives

make known your heavenly glory.

Amen.