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Baptism and Identity


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Right before Jesus heads off to the wilderness, he is baptised and hears God's affirmation: "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased." But what does this mean for our identity as baptised persons? This session follows the first chapter of Rowan Williams' excellent book "Being Christian"

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Baptism and Identity

  1. 1. Baptism and Identity Matthew 3:13 - 17
  2. 2. Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’
  3. 3. But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then he consented.
  4. 4. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.
  5. 5. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved,* with whom I am well pleased.’
  6. 6. Sources I’m going to be relying pretty heavily on Rowan Williams (ex-Archbishop of Canterbury)’s excellent book Being Christian. Read it!
  7. 7. Question Why was Jesus baptised? Why is it important to me?
  8. 8. Baptized into Christ Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Romans 6:3 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Luke 12:50
  9. 9. Baptism Did your baptism give you a new identity? If so, what is it?
  10. 10. Baptism “From the very beginning, baptism… was associated with the idea of going down into the darkness of Jesus’ suffering… we are, so to speak, ‘dropped’ into that mysterious event which Christians commemorate on Good Friday, and, more regularly, in the breaking of bread at Holy Communion.
  11. 11. Identity Point 1 • Baptism is baptism “into Jesus.” • Like Jesus, when you come out of the water, God says to you “you are my daughter or son”
  12. 12. In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God* swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good Genesis 1:1-4
  13. 13. Baptism as New Creation “The water and the Spirit and the voice: you can see why the early Christians began to associate the event of baptism with exactly that image which St Paul uses for the Christian life – new creation” Williams Being Christian
  14. 14. Identity Where do you get your sense of identity – or identities – from? Who are you?
  15. 15. Restored Identity “[God] intended that human beings should grow into such love for him and such confidence in him that they could rightly be called God’s sons and daughters…. Jesus restores humanity ‘from within’… has to come down fully to our level where things are shapeless and meaningless… if real humanity is to come to birth” Rowan Williams Being Christian
  16. 16. Given that Jesus recreates us out of chaos, baptised people can be expected t: 1. Be found in the neighbourhood of chaos 2. In touch with the chaos of our own lives
  17. 17. [Baptism] is not to claim… a sort of privilege that keeps you separate from and superior to the rest of the human race, but to claim a new level of solidarity with other people…. to be affected by the mess of humanity… not a convocation of those who are privileged, elite, and separate, but of those who have accepted what it means to be in the heart of a needy, contaminated, messy world…. You don’t go down into the waters of the Jordan without stirring up a great deal of mud! Rowan Williams Being Christian
  18. 18. Question Has it been your experience that Christians are “found in the neighbourhood of chaos”? Are they (we!) comfortable with their own chaos?
  19. 19. Open to God “The baptized person is not only in the middle of human suffering…but in the middle of the love and delight of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit…. Because Jesus has taken his stand right in th emiddle of those two realities, that is wehre we take ours…. ‘Where I am, there will my servant be also’ (John 12:26) Rowan Williams Being Christian
  20. 20. Prayer “The prayer of baptised people is a growing and moving into the prayer of Jesus himself and therefore it is a prayer that may often be difficult and mysterious. It will not always be cheerful and clear, and ti may not always feel as though it is going to be answered…. Christians pray because the haveto, because the Spirit is surging up inside them.” Rowan Williams Being Christian
  21. 21. Question So what do you reckon?
  22. 22. Solidarity The solidarity that baptism brings us into, the solidarity with suffering, is a solidarity with one another as well. That is to say: the church.
  23. 23. Question Do you have an example of a time where you experienced good (or poor) levels of solidarity from a church
  24. 24. Summary So baptism • restores human identity • Takes us where Jesus is – solidarity with a suffering world and others who believe • Characterised by a prayerfulness that keeps going even when it seems pointless
  25. 25. Theme of Identity Jesus has just heard the powerful affirmation from God about his identity as The Beloved When the Devil tempts Jesus, he responds with words of Scripture – words which re-assert his identity as coming from God.
  26. 26. Go in peace; may you carry God’s Wisdom, speak forth God’s Word, and embody God’s Presence wherever you are. In the name of Christ. Amen.
  27. 27. Blessing The grace of Christ attend you; the love of God surround you; the Holy Spirit keep you; this day and for ever. Amen.