Sunday, 11 January 2015

Baptism of Christ

Sermon for  St Magnus on Sunday 11th January.... after heavy winds!!

A wind from God was seen sweeping across the waters…… We all know what that feels like! Plenty of ships had taken shelter I noticed on Thursday and Friday… the wind has been fierce.
Genesis opens the scene with this wind from God… the mighty drum roll for the creative drama to unfold.
Mark begins his drama with a similar dramatic opening…. We certainly get the impression in both accounts that something great and something of God is unfolding quickly before us.
By verse 5 in Genesis we have day one completed, and by verse 9 in Mark Jesus the Son of God has been revealed.
For Mark the Baptism of Jesus is the great Epiphany of God. Last week we had the Epiphany of Matthew with wise men from the East recognising the movement of God, and before that of course we had Luke’s Epiphany moment when the focus was on the inn in Bethlehem and the stable round the back.
In all these Epiphanies God has been seen revealing himself and inviting us to in turn recognise that in Christ God was at work redeeming the world.
For Mark John the Baptist is Elijah. (He even dresses identically to him and this is clearly pointed out) and just as Elijah called on the people of Israel to repent and be part of the Kingdom in the second book of Kings, so John calls the people to repent and be part of the Kingdom. Baptism in water was common place among Jews in recommitting themselves to God and it was also the sign for Gentiles entering into Judaism.
Jesus is seen aligning himself alongside humanity and being baptised too. In this act Jesus is recognised alongside and in solidarity with all of us.
The Baptism of Christ was an important moment for Mark, who as we know was not at all interested in birth narratives. The Baptism fulfils the same function as Luke’s Shepherds and Matthew Wise men.
Some of you may have seen the TV series “who do you think you are?” where a celebrity delves into their family history The Baptism of Christ was Marks way of proving that God was in Christ…. His story starts here The kingdom of God is revealed and the chosen son of God is made manifest.
It is interesting that at the baptism a voice is heard by Jesus (we are not told others heard it at that time) that He is God’s son and God is pleased by this, and at the end of the Gospel the centurion at the cross is publicly heard to proclaim “truly this was God’s son”. What a wonderful way of tying the beginning of the drama as it unfolds to the end.
Furthermore at the Baptism the heavens were torn apart and the next time they get torn apart for Mark is at the crucifixion as Jesus gasps his last breath and as they tear aprt then the curtain of the temple was also seen being torn from top to bottom, thus signifying the way to God fully accessible and obtainable.
Part of the trouble for us is that we have become so familiar with the stories and we also only get snatches of them. The complete drama often remains hidden or overlooked by us.
Marks gospel is too often seen as the more downplayed story because it seems to ignore the birth and it has a rather stunted and bad end. But if we can see it for what it is hopefully we can see it as just as dramatic as any other.
Here is the Good news of God….
Read all about it … all about it!  This story is going to change how you think about God and even how you think about yourself.
The Christians in Ephesus recognised this when they experienced the wind from God blowing amongst them too….. another Pentecost story if ever we needed one… there were even about twelve of them again.
So to bring things to a conclusion.
The wind from God seen creating in Day one Gods creation was in tune with God and aligned alongside him, it was a wonderful exchange. This creative power of God is seen time and time again calling his people back to him in various ways, and in the life of Jesus we see it all over again as a new creation is revealed and a new possibility made clear for us Gods people.
The Holy Spirit is still felt blowing among us constantly revealing the works of the Kingdom to us.

O Come let us adore him… truly this man was God’s Son.