Remembering Jesus’ Baptism and Our Own

Homily, Part 1

There John is.  Ministering in the wilderness.  A wild man clad in camel hair and surviving on honey and locusts.  A prophet calling people to a baptism of repentance.

Folks throng to him. People from Jerusalem and all Judea.  All coming to the River Jordan.  All seeking baptism for the repentance of sin.

One day John looks up and sees a stranger approaching.  But that stranger is no stranger to John.  That stranger is the one about whom he once said, “One who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

No wonder John felt uncomfortable.  No wonder he questioned Jesus.  John took one look at Jesus and knew him as the one who would usher in a new age, the one who would bring the reign of God near.  What need did Jesus have for a baptism of repentance.

Perhaps it’s not so much a matter of Jesus’ need to repent and be baptized.  For doesn’t Jesus in his baptism in the Jordan River join us and all who follow him in our need for a baptism of repentance?  Isn’t Jesus, standing as he does in the waters of the Jordan, join us in our sin and separation from God just as he joins us in our suffering as he hangs from the cross?

Every year on this Sunday we name “Baptism of our Lord” we hear this story of Jesus being baptized by John.  At least four times every year, this Sunday included, we reaffirm our baptismal covenant.  Sometimes I get tired of it.  Sometimes I say to myself, “Let’s get on with the story.”  But every so often, I run across a story that stops me cold.  A story that reminds me how very important it is to reaffirm my baptismal covenant.

This week, I read about Martin Luther.  You remember him.  The devout Augustinian monk who struggled with his conscience and with the Church he served.  The one who posted his points of contention on the door of the castle church in Wittenburg.  Declared a heretic and an outlaw, he hid out in Wartburg, Germany, for over a year.

Martin Luther, who every morning of his exile said to himself, “I remember my baptism.”  Luther remembering a baptism sealed by the Holy Spirit.  Luther remembering that he was “marked as Christ’s own forever.”1

Please join me now at the font as we together remember our baptism.

Reaffirming Baptismal Vows

Presider            Let us join together at the font as we  renew our Baptismal Covenant

The Baptismal Covenant

Presider            Do you believe in God the Father?

People              I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

Presider            Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?

People              I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord.

He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried

He descended to the dead.

            On the third day he rose again.

He ascended into heaven,

                        and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Presider            Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?

People              I believe in the Holy Spirit,

                           the holy catholic church,

                           the communion of saints,

                           the forgiveness of sins,

                           the resurrection of the body,

                           and the life everlasting.


Presider            How will you grow in faithfulness to these things you believe?

People              With God’s help I will continue in the apostles’ teaching                                                             and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers. 

Presider            How will you respond to temptation and failure?

People              With God’s help I will persevere in resisting evil, and whenever I fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord.

Presider            How will you share God and Christ with the world?

People              With God’s help I will proclaim in word and example the Good News of God in Jesus Christ.

Presider            How will you show others that you are a member of the Body of Christ?

People            With God’s help I will seek and serve Christ in every person,
loving my neighbor as myself.

Presider            How will you participate in making God’s world a better                                                                         place for all God’s creation?

People            With God’s help I will strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.

Prayers of the People

The Presider then says to the congregation

Let us now pray

Leader      Deliver us, O Lord, from the way of sin and death.

People      Lord, hear our prayer.

Leader      Open our hearts to your grace and truth.

People      Lord, hear our prayer.

Leader      Fill us with your holy and life-giving Spirit.

People      Lord, hear our prayer.

Leader      Keep us in the faith and communion of your holy Church.

People     Lord, hear our prayer.

Leader      Teach us to love others in the power of the Spirit.

People      Lord, hear our prayer.

Leader      Send us into the world in witness to your love.

People       Lord, hear our prayer.

Leader      Bring us to the fullness of your peace and glory.

People       Lord, hear our prayer.

The Presider says

Grant, O Lord, that we who have been baptized into the death
of Jesus Christ your Son may live in the power of his
resurrection and look for him to come again in glory; who
lives and reigns now and forever. Amen.

Thanksgiving over the Water

This water is water Susan Langer brought from the Jordan River joined with the water from our baptismal font.

The Celebrant blesses the water, first saying

The Lord be with you.

People         And also with you.

Celebrant    Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

People        It is right to give God thanks and praise.


We thank you, Almighty God, for the gift of water.
Over it the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation.
Through it you led the children of Israel out of their bondage
in Egypt into the land of promise. In it your Son Jesus
received the baptism of John and was anointed by the Holy
Spirit as the Messiah, the Christ, to lead us, through his death
and resurrection, from the bondage of sin into everlasting life.

We thank you, Father, for the water of Baptism. In it we are
buried with Christ in his death. By it we share in his
resurrection. Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit.
Therefore in joyful obedience to your Son, we bring into his fellowship those who come to him in faith, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

At the following words, the Celebrant touches the water

Now sanctify this water, we pray you, by the power of your Holy Spirit, that those who here are cleansed from sin and born again may continue for ever in the risen life of Jesus Christ our Savior.

To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit, be all honor and
glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Sprinkling Rite 


Homily, Part II

Now we, sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever, join with Jesus and one another in following the path of all righteousness.  That path that took Jesus to the darkest corners of his world.  That path that took Jesus from the Jordan River to the Cross.  Sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever, we join with Jesus in opening the eyes of the blind and bringing prisoners out of cells that confine.  We join with Jesus in solidarity with those the world despises.  We pray that we we may walk gently with Jesus ever watchful for the bruised reeds and dimly burning wicks on the paths we trod.  In awe and silence, we remember our baptism and give thanks.

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