This Sunday we observe the baptism of our Lord in the river Jordan by John. If, like me, you have travelled to Israel, you would have been surprised to see the Jordan more like a creek than a river. In the days of Jesus, it would have been freer-flowing and a suitable place for baptisms. One of the privileges of being a clergyperson is you are invited to participate in family celebrations which include the baptism of not only newborn children but children and adults of all ages. In days past it was common practice for all children to be baptised, particularly if you saw yourself as Church of England or Catholic. I know from experience that many parents who were baptised themselves do not bring their children for baptism, often to the dismay or disappointment of grandparents. Many have not necessarily completely rejected faith themselves, but do not see the need for baptism. Secular naming ceremonies, at the same time, have become increasingly popular as Christian faith is no longer acknowledged or practised by many in our multifaith and diverse community.
When a child is baptised, they become a member of the Christian community with the responsibility of all of us to ensure faith is spoken about and has a presence in the life of the child. In the past, confirmation was the occasion for the child to affirm faith for themselves.
In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus is baptised by John and the spirt of God affirms his decision. Jesus then goes into the wilderness where his mission is confirmed for all people to receive the gift of God’s grace and love.
Life itself is a gift of God and today we affirm our own baptismal promises to do likewise. When a child is brought for baptism this gift of life is affirmed and we give thanks to God.