Saturday, 21 June 2008

Baptism sermon

Our baptism is of Kornel Kiss, whose family now live in Hungary but have links with Whittlesford & Cambridge and wanted to celebrate here with English Godparents!
I have wanted to keep the sermon short as there is so much that has to be said at an Anglican baptism! I'm also hoping that even those for whom English is a second language will be able to follow my words.

Romans 6: 1b-11 , Matthew 10: 24-39

‘I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 
For I have come to set a man against his father,
 and a daughter against her mother,
 and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 
and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.’

These are the words of Jesus so I don’t think we can just ignore them – but I feel rather like the evil fairy god-mother at Sleeping Beauty’s birth – coming not with cheerful words of blessing but with something dark and disturbing.

And Paul’s letter to the church at Rome wasn’t much better:
'Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?'

Surely I should be standing here talking about life, not death; and about loving your family, not hating them! – especially on this wonderful occasion of Kornel’s baptism.

Yet these readings are a good way of reminding us exactly what we are doing here for Kornel.
This is not just a family celebration Рas Levent̩ and Krisztina have already proved by coming from Hungary to be with friends here. This is a wider welcome than just being welcomed into a family РKornel is being welcomed into the worldwide church of God and is becoming part of the body of Christ in the world.
Those of us speaking in the church here today are speaking on behalf of the whole church. This is a big event!

And Paul’s talk of death reminds is that this is not just about celebrating the start of Kornel’s life: we are claiming God’s blessing on him for his whole life – in this world and the next.
Kornel will be joined with Jesus Christ in baptism – and so he will be in the loving arms of God all his life through, and will be brought with Christ through death to eternal life.
This is a big event!

And Jesus’ words about being set against family in order to follow him is Jesus the rabbi’s way of telling his followers that being a disciples of Christ is not an easy add-on to a comfortable life. It is a radical call on our allegiance – if we follow Christ we must be ready to put him first, above our own will, our comfort and even our family.

Very soon I will sign Kornel with the sign of Jesus Christ’s cross and say
Kornel, Christ claims you for his own.
Receive the sign of his cross
And nothing will every be the same again. Kornel will be Christ’s – above all, a child of God.
This is a big event!

And if all that wasn’t enough – this is not just an event about Kornel and his reception into the worldwide church, for his whole life, as a follower of Christ. It is about all of us – it is a celebration of the love of God which flows out in the symbol of water to touch and embrace us all.

This really is a big event – this is about the love of God in water and wine and bread; about the love of God in creation and redemption; about God’s love for Kornel and every one of the children he has made and called and saved.
It is about the love of Father Son & Holy Spirit.

So thanks be to God for the wonder of life and love.
Amen.

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