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Holy Baptism on Advent Sunday, 2021 — 28 Nov 21

Holy Baptism on Advent Sunday, 2021

Comper, Ninian, 1864-1960. Majestas, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=54161 [retrieved November 29, 2021]. Original source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/17884832@N00/1163690185/.

RCL Year C, Advent 1
Jeremiah 33:14-16, Psalm 25:1-9, I Thessalonians 3:9-13, Saint Luke 21:25-36

Today we begin a New Church Year, a New Year of Grace, with the privilege of administering Holy Baptism. Whenever we administer Baptism, we can be sure that we are fulfilling our mission as Christians to bring new Christians into the fold. When we put a little water on William’s head and a little oil on his forehead, William belongs to Christ for all time and for all eternity.

The Lessons today thoroughly belong to Advent. They speak of Christ’s coming, not in humility as a baby in Bethlehem centuries ago, but in glorious majesty at the end of time to claim his own, to claim those who put their trust in him.

Those last few words are tremendously important. Christ will claim his own who put their trust in him. The water and the oil on his head will make him Christ’s own forever. But the nurture we give him, the way we rear him, will teach him to trust Jesus. He may find out on his own how to do this, but more likely he will learn to trust Jesus by watching people trust Jesus. Our examples will give him the experience of being with people who trust Jesus. Surrounded by people who put their trust in Jesus, William will all the more easily learn to do likewise.

Long after he has forgotten today, when he is twelve or thirteen years old, he will stand before the Bishop for Confirmation, when he will say in his own voice that he trusts Jesus. He will declare on his own that the promises made today by his parents, his godparents, and his parish, are promises that he will keep for himself. And, to keep those promises, he needs to observe people keeping those promises so that he will know what to do and how to do it.

The prophecy that Jeremiah makes in today’s First Lesson, that “Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety,”[1] is a prophecy that has been fulfilled. But it wasn’t fulfilled when the exiles returned to Palestine from Babylon. Nor was it fulfilled when the Persians, or the Greeks, or the Romans dominated Palestine. They gave Judah and Jerusalem no salvation and no safety. The prophecy was fulfilled when people trusted Jesus of Nazareth. You are Judah. I am Jerusalem. William can be Judah and Jerusalem, part of a people saved and part of a people living in safety promised by Jeremiah on behalf of the Lord.

May we “be alert at all times” to miss no opportunity in William’s life to show him how “to stand before the Son of Man,”[2] not only at his Confirmation but at the end of time.


[1] Jeremiah 33:16.

[2] Saint Luke 21:36.

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