‘Shine as a light in the world ‘- Reflection for the Baptism of Christ 2022

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Now when all the people were baptised, and when Jesus also had been baptised and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

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I like the Epiphany season, when with the magi, the wise ones, we step out in faith together into a new year. In this ongoing challenging time, the fact that we step out together is important. Together we offer care and prayer as we reflect glimpses of God not only in what we do but in who we are.

There are three bible stories that we are invited to ponder during the Epiphany season. The first is the visit of the magi to the baby Jesus. It’s a familiar yet mysterious tale, one that encourages us to think not only about the gifts that we offer to God but also about the paths that we are called to tread in our love for Christ. The second story we read today. Fast forward for the Christ child is a baby no longer, rather an adult standing in the river Jordan to be baptised by his cousin John. Then next week, we focus on the miracle at Cana, when Jesus changes water into wine and, we are told, ‘revealed his glory.’ (John 2:11)

It’s always a joy to baptise a baby, child, young person or adult. At the end of the service, we present a baptism candle and pray that the candidate will ‘Shine as a light in the world to the glory of God the Father.’ Baptism is something that doesn’t just happen as a one-off event; we live our baptism promises each and every day. We pray that we will shine like lights not to draw attention to ourselves, rather to Jesus, light of the world.

In my article for the January edition of the Hempsted magazine, I suggest that the Christmas lights remain up in Hempsted and the city centre beyond Twelfth Night in order to make life feel and look a little more cheerful. Of more importance is to notice intentionally the light of Christ shining in our community and to hold that light for others. In the words of the hymn, Brother, Sister, let me Serve You:

I will hold the Christ-light for you in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear.

Rev Canon Nikki Arthy, Rector

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