RCL Year B Advent 1
Isaiah 64:1-9, Psalm 80:1-7 and 16-18, I Corinthians 1:3-9, Saint Mark 13:24-37

When I had my first conversation with Isabella Marie, she had all the confidence that can be had when one is pretending to be somebody else. It was the Sunday before Halloween, and she was every inch a cat. She was on all fours in the parish house, and she was looking out warily from behind the legs of a table. She persuaded me that she was ready to pounce. And she would only communicate as the cat she was. When I saw her the next time, I asked her if she had seen the cat that looked so much like her, and she asked, “You mean the cat with the curly hair?”

And today, the first day of a new Church Year, a beginning of beginnings, we shall give her yet another identity. We are presenting her to the Lord in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism as who she already is—a child of God, created in God’s own image, for whom God’s Son was willing to be betrayed, to be given into the hands of sinners, to be crucified most unjustly, and to rise again on the third day for her justification that she is Christ’s own forever. She is all of these things already.

And in Baptism, we are drawing a line under her identity as Christ’s own forever. We do this not because Baptism is magical, because it is not. Baptism, like all the Sacraments, does not compel us. It requires our coöperation—yours and mine as the community in which she is free to be who she is, and her coöperation, for each time she exerts her will she will need to coöperate with him to whom she belongs. She will need to follow and obey him as her Lord.[1]

Her coöperation will be necessary at each step along the way. She will be his inasmuch as she wills to be his. And in time and at the end of time, when Christ comes again in his identity as Judge of the living and the dead, she will be his forever. The words of today’s Epistle will sound triumphantly for her and for all who have put on Christ, “who will also strengthen” them “to the end, so that” they “may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him” they “were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”[2] Che sera, sera. What will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see. It is his, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. And we who own him, will be owned by him.

[1] The Book of Common Prayer, page 303.

[2] I Corinthians 1:8-9.