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A little boy attended the christening of his little brother. The older boy proceeded to cry all the way home, in the car. His father asked, “What’s wrong son?” The boy said, “The minister made you promise that you would bring us up in a Christian home.” “What’s wrong with that?” asked the Father. The boy cried, “I want to stay with you and mum.”
Sometimes our children are more honest than we’d like them to be!

Bringing up a child is both a tremendous joy and a huge responsibility. In a baptism service we express both of those things in Christian terms. We express the joy of a new life in thanking God for his gift of that life, and we invite our family and friends to come along with us to celebrate. Through the prayers and promises the parents and godparents express their trust in God to help them bring up their child. In a baptism service we remind ourselves that a child has many needs: not just physical and emotional ones but also needs to be brought up spiritually.

A Sense of Belonging
One of the things that a baptism service helps to celebrate is a sense of belonging. Most immediately the family gathers to say that the new child belongs to their family. But the reason why we hold baptism services on a Sunday morning during the normal Sunday service is because the child also belongs to a wider Christian family.

The prayer that the Minister says over the water in the font is especially important in this sense. I explain to parents and godparents that the prayer takes water as its theme, and particularly the symbolic role of water in the Bible. It starts off by recalling how God created this planet by bringing dry land out of the water. Then it jumps forward a long time to describe the children of Israel being brought out of slavery in Egypt through the waters of the Red Sea – a sort of baptism of all the people. The prayer skips forward again, several centuries to the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. Finally, the prayer asks that those who are being baptized in the water will be joined to God’s people. It an exciting prayer because it is connecting the baby to be baptized with the whole history of God’s people, all the way back to creation. That is an example of what it means to care for a child’s spiritual needs – it gives the child a sense of identity – a sense of to whom it belongs, where it has come from and how it is.

Parental Influence
We all believe in setting a child off in the right way at the beginning of its life. Near a church in Kansas, there can be seen in a cement pavement the prints of two baby feet with the toes pointing toward the Church. It was said that many years ago, when the pavement was being laid, a mother secured permission to stand her baby boy on the wet cement. The tracks are seen today plainly. The mother had wanted her little boy to start aright.

Today’s first reading from the preaching of the OT prophet Isaiah was originally aimed at God’s people who had lost their way. Things were going very badly for them in that they had been invaded and taken far way to a foreign land. They felt that God had forgotten them and they didn’t feel that anyone else counted them as valuable or worth noticing. They had become so despondent that they lay around without any energy.

Isaiah reminded them of who God was and what he was like. If God created the world he must be at the same time, amazingly great and also incredibly careful about all its tiny details. No-one taught God how to make the world; even trying to think about measuring the weight of a mountain or a drop of water could blow your mind. If God cares so much about creation, then he also cares about the lives of his people. Bad things may have happened to them, but that didn’t necessarily mean that God had forgotten them. God’s people had to be helped to come back to their senses.
Sacrifice and Life
Here’s a story which is quite moving and inspiring. Years ago, a young mother was making her way across the hills of South Wales, carrying her tiny baby in her arms when she was overtaken by a blinding blizzard. She never reached her destination; and when the blizzard had subsided, searchers found her body beneath a mound of snow. But they discovered that before her death, she had taken off all her outer clothing and wrapped it about her baby. When they unwrapped the child, to their great surprise and joy, they found he was alive and well. She had mounded her body over his and given her life for her child, proving the depths of her mother love. Years later that child, David Lloyd George, grown to manhood, and became a famous prime minister.

Today is Trinity Sunday. The Bible doesn’t say in so many words that God is “The Holy Trinity”, but the nature of God who is three in one can be drawn from all that the Bible does say about God. It is easy to get tied up in fancy explanations about how God can be one but also three. What we are to remember and celebrate today is the mystery and majesty of God. Isaiah’s preaching describes how wonderful God the creator is. Just as Jesus commanded his disciples, we will be baptising Lucy in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We will be baptising her into the mystery and majesty of God. We will be connecting her with the source of life and energy that can make all the difference in her life. Jesus sent his followers to spread the news about his life, death and resurrection and gather others to be followers of Jesus. The mark of them belonging to God’s new people was baptism. But Jesus sent his followers out because God had sent him in the first place. God sent him to be the message summed up in person that he had not forgotten us, even though he created and sustains the universe. When we connect Lucy to a sense of belonging to God’s people, we also remind ourselves that we, too, belong through our own baptism.

Copyright © Rev Paul Smith




Holy God,
faithful and unchanging:
enlarge our minds with the knowledge of your truth,
and draw us more deeply into the mystery of your love,
that we may truly worship you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.