The gospel reading for today is the one where we read about Jesus’ baptism by John. It is part of Luke 3
15 Everyone was expecting the Messiah to come soon, and they were eager to know whether John might be the Messiah. 16 John answered their questions by saying, “I baptise you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am-so much greater that I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandals. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire 21 One day when the crowds were being baptised, Jesus himself was baptised. As he was praying, the heavens opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”
It seems to me we have heard a lot about baptism in the last few months at Kippax so I am not dwelling on it this morning. But it does ask a significant question of us.
That question is: Are we willing to make a commitment to this God that we recognise as one who is spiritually alive in our world, recognisable in nature, recognisable in the way we relate to one another, and knowable through our reading of the bible and particularly in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
Are we sufficiently convinced by the truth of all aspects of the nature of God, that we want to say “Yes” again – or maybe for the first time – at the beginning of a new year?
The way we act for God in the world we live in, is through the gift of the Holy Spirit. This was made clear to Jesus at his baptism by John, and was symbolised by the appearance of the dove. The Holy Spirit is the empowerer, companion, guide, comforter, and encourager that is God’s gift to us for our ministry, as we continue to do Christ’s work in the world. John’s message was that Jesus was coming to baptise with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
This talk about being baptised with fire brings to mind enthusiasm, energy, power. This morning I want to give you the chance to use the symbols of both water and fire as we make our commitment to follow Christ this year. We do not know what the year holds, but we do know that we will be in the right place if we put ourselves in God’s hands.
During the singing of our next song, and in the one that follows, that will be just sung by our singing group, I invite you to come to the table, bringing your paper with you, whether it has writing on it or not, light a T light candle and place it on the table on your paper. This is your symbol of commitment. Then you can go to the font and renew that feeling of a cross of water being placed on your forehead – either by yourself or by someone else.