Baptism Sermon

St. Peters Church Addingham

Cross Bottom

Baptism Talk

Alexander George Coupe (23/Feb/2014 @ 10am) St Peter’s Addingham

Readings:  Romans 8:18-25 / Matthew 6:25-34

Prayer : We thank you God for the gift of Life – for the waters of baptism and for your Word that offers us hope in & through your Son Jesus. Amen

Today we have witnessed signs of life – a new addition to our family. We welcome Alexander & his parents Toby & Claire to be a part of our family here at Addingham – part of the worldwide family of God.  Through baptism, we have each been sprinkled,  each been adopted, washed & welcomed into the Love of God. It is a time of celebration, of wonder and a time of discovery as a whole new way of life opens before us  – we forsake the old & with eyes being opened – we start to look forward to new possibilities. For Toby & Claire, life will never be the same again– once Alexander was born, the whole daily routine changed, priorities were re-evaluated & new plans were made for the future. The old regime had to change , like waking up in the middle of the night to feed or change Alexander –  you can’t hide under the duvet when new life is demanding attention, comfort or care – whatever time of the day or night.

But if we ask Toby & Claire whether it is worth it, what will they say ? Yes of course it is – worth all the waiting of the past 9 months, the labour pains, the delivery & bringing Alexander back home – rearranging the home so as to accommodate him. Maybe along with the Scripture reading today, Claire can say “I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us”. So today I would like us to consider new birth. Each of us here were babies, many of us have also be baptised – born of the Spirit – the waters of baptism today are a sign & a symbol of God’s covenant love.    Of God giving birth.

How many of you have been watching ‘Call the Midwife’ on Sunday nights BBC 1? The first series started with Jenny Lee, 22 , fresh from nurse training in Paris turning up at Nonnatus House in East London in about 1957. She was in for a shock, having come from a privileged background – to be surrounded by the poverty & squalor of Poplar – where between 80-100 babies were born each month. It was her task to ensure the safe delivery & maintain the health of both mother & baby. She was completely unaware of the World she was about to enter into & was shocked to find that she would be working with nuns, members of a religious order. My great grandmother was also a midwife working in East London between the Wars. In the 1990’s, I met the last remaining members of the religious order featured in the TV series. They were then very elderly &  had been living in Stepney at the Royal Foundation of St Katherine’s & then eventually they moved to Vauxhall.

Each day the sisters experienced the struggles & joys of Life – they were immersed in the lives of those around them. They witnessed physical birth with forceps & towels & spiritual birth, through prayer & worship. They lived in hope – despite being surrounded by heartache, poverty & pain – believing for that better future.  Let us look again at our bible passages for today – Matthew & Romans.

Matthew tells us not to worry about life & the body – about food & drink & clothes but rather to focus upon the spiritual – that may not be good advice for new parents, having to think about mealtimes & bath times, nappy changing etc but the passage says “Do Not Worry”. The priority & focus should not be on the task in hand – but rather upon the end goal – of growth in God…living with a purpose – thriving & not just surviving, of no longer being slaves to daily routines or the monthly pay packet. Life is more than clothes, than food, or nice homes or the next holiday. Jesus said – For where your treasures are, there your heart will be also (Lk 12:34). What are our riches – what do we treasure ? What do we value most in life?

The Sisters sought to serve – they were involved in labour pains – the pains of those around them. They lived in hope & in eager longing, & they waited in patience for the children of God to be revealed. Through prayer & through their medical training they sought to bring a whole new generation to birth. They trusted the process of growth, of nature and sought to give it a helping hand.

So today – we acknowledge that we have been born – that we have been baptised – more anew of water & the spirit. We like newborn babes have to explore our new surroundings & adapt to life, outside the womb of our parent – to grow & develop, in body, mind & spirit. But we are also midwives – called to help others to give birth – to invite new life into our midst, with all the disruption that this might cause – but as Claire would say, worth it all the same.

As a Church, as a PCC we have committed ourselves to reaching out to children & young families in this area – to offer support, hospitality & nurture to new life, both physically & spiritually. Our Hands On Church – our Toddler Services, our Family & All Age services bear witness to this – but there is always more we can do.

Do we groan ? Is that in anticipation – of longing or dread for the life that will shortly be a part of us ? Are we committed to seeing a pregnancy through to full term & to face the disruption caused by accommodation of new ways of doing & being & thinking, of new considerations causing upsets to our cherished routines ?

Do we Seek first the kingdom of God – or do we seek first our own comfort & security & ways of working ? Are we prepared to sacrifice these for the greater good – Can we live in hope, in patient expectation for the brand new tomorrow? St Peter’s Addingham being transformed – there are already signs of pregnancy –  but we are as yet in the very early stages –we live in hope that the day will come, when we will be proud parents, godparents or grandparents, being midwives witnessing to new life amongst us. Easter only comes after the 40 days of Lent – we need to prepare ourselves for the pains of pregnancy & childbirth,  in order to truly be the Church of the living God – to born into a Living Hope. Amen.

Revd. David Austin 23/02/14