Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Bed-sitters and baptism

It was a great joy for me to be take part in the christening of George Edward de Warrenne Waller on 17th August 2008 in St Mary's Nenagh, at which I was privilged to give this address.

1. Today is a joyful occasion, a day for celebration, a day of baptism!

For many of us it is a family celebration. Particularly so for William and Orla, as with their daughter Esme they bring their baby son George to be christened in the presence of so many of their relatives and friends, who share their joy in him. It is a special joy for me to be here, because William was christened by my father, and I was present at Esme’s christening.

For George’s Godparents, for Clodagh Conroy, Adam Waller, and Tom Waller - Tom unfortunately cannot be here today, but I know he is with us in spirit - it is a day when they promise to encourage George in his life and in his faith. It is a day to celebrate the start of a very special relationship they will have with him as he grows up. My daughter, when she was small, called her Godmother ‘my bed-sitter’, because when her Godmother came to stay she would sit on the end of her bed and have long talks with her. My daughter loved those special talks. May you as Godparents be equally special ‘bed-sitters’ for George!

It is surely right for families to celebrate as families. Our Lord Jesus Christ himself was reared in a human family, and he took part in family celebrations such as the wedding in Cana of Galilee.

2. But today is about much more than just a family celebration.

Today’s reading from St Matthew’s Gospel tells us how Jesus commissioned the eleven to make disciples of all nations, and to mark it by baptism. They in turn passed on the commission to others, handing on the gift of faith to new generations. And so we, as that part of Christ’s church gathered here today, as Jesus’s disciples, pass on this gift to a new generation, to George.

We are here to welcome George as a new member of Christ’s Church. Baptism marks the beginning of a journey with God, which will last for the rest of his life. Whether we are family or not, we celebrate that today. And as we renew our baptismal vows, let us reflect on our own journey, and let us be determined to support George’s parents and Godparents as they guide him on his journey.

3. George will be baptised “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.

Matthew tells us that Jesus himself used these words. Those of us who are Anglicans share this baptismal formula with most other Christians, including the Roman Catholic, the Orthodox and most Reformed Churches. It is a symbol of unity within the diversity of our denominations that we baptise in the same words.

We shouldn’t see the Trinity as a static thing, I think. Rather, God reveals himself in the Trinity in a dynamic cycle of loving relationships. The Father and the Son loving each other; the Son and the Spirit loving each other; and the Spirit and the Father loving each other.

May George grow up to recognise God’s dynamic cycle of love reflected in his own relationships!

4. According to Matthew, the last words Jesus spoke to his disciples are these: “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Jesus was speaking to the eleven, but he still speaks these words to his disciples today.

What an amazing thing it is, that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, our friend and brother, is travelling with us on our journey. Even when we are tired or anxious, lonely or frightened, doubting or lost, Jesus is there with us, to encourage and support us, to love us.

The loving Christ journeys with George, and with every one of us. Let us give thanks for it, and let us celebrate it!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hmm.. cognitively ))