Field of Dreams: if you build it, they will come!

Trinity 7 with baptisms
July 14, 2013, 8:55 pm
Filed under: Sermons

A sermon preached at All Hallows, Easton, Sunday 14th July 2013

Today we are welcoming four new little members into our Christian family. What does that mean, for them and for us? Being a Christian means, first and foremost, being a follower of Jesus Christ. It is more than just living in the way that Jesus taught, long ago. It means regarding him as a personal and living friend, a friend who cares so much for us, and whom we would be ashamed to let down.

In this morning’s first reading, Moses told the people that prosperity comes from obeying God. God will bless you, he said, if you keep his commandments. Probably they understood God’s blessing of prosperity in a rather materialistic way, but even in that way we can say that a society will prosper best if it lives according to the will of the Creator.

But we shouldn’t obey God simply because we hope for material blessings. We should not love our parents just because we hope to inherit their money! We should do so because they have given us existence, and (I hope) cared for us through childhood to adulthood, and, if they are still with us, go on caring for us. Jesus taught us that God is our loving Father in heaven. We should love him with all our heart and mind and soul, and we should love our neighbours as ourselves. Moses said that this Law is not far above us, or far away from us. It is in our very hearts. Our consciences tell us how to live, if we listen to them. The good Samaritan, seeing his neighbour’s need, knew almost instinctively what he should do, though he was a stranger, while the officially religious people failed to put their faith into practice.

So we are welcoming four new members into the Christian family. We are enrolling them as Christians, as followers of Jesus. But how will that mean anything to them, as they grow up, if we who have welcomed them today- especially we who have brought them today to be baptised- do not speak to them of Jesus Christ, show them by our own words and lives that we ourselves are his followers?

Being a Christian is a very personal and individual thing. No-one can do it for us. At the end of our life, when we come before God for judgement, we will be asked about our own behaviour, not anyone else’s. Have we been loving and kind, have we been fair and honest? Have we been true friends and followers of Jesus. Being a Christian is our own personal responsibility, but we do not do it on our own. The Church is a family of Christians who are pledged to help one another to be faithful to Jesus Christ. That is why, in a moment, when we enrol these children as followers of Jesus, children of the heavenly Father, we are all, the whole congregation, we are all asked to renew our promises to turn to Christ, to turn away from sin and the devil. We are asked whether we truly believe in God as Creator and Father. We shall be asked whether we believe in Jesus as Son of God, our Saviour who died for us, who rose from the dead and who lives for ever as our Lord. We shall be asked whether we believe in the transforming Spirit of God, living in our hearts to change our lives.

If we can sincerely do this, we shall truly be able to support our little ones in their pilgrimage, their life’s journey. They depend upon us for their bodily life and well-being. They also depend on us for their spiritual growth and well-being. We must not let them down. We must not let Jesus Christ down.

I know you all come with good will, and good intentions. The challenge is to keep true to that good will and good intentions over the months and years to come. You will find, here at All Hallows, the friendship and help you need. We are not perfect- we are just trying to be better than we are, with the help of God. Baptism is something God does for us, giving us his own living Spirit. It is the first great Sacrament of the Church, the sign of God’s love.

As this Mass continues, we shall celebrate the second, and even greater Sacrament, in which Jesus Christ, invisibly present among us and represented by his priest, takes bread and wine and by the power of the Holy Spirit makes them his own Body and Blood, the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation. One day, we hope that these little ones will so understand what Jesus Christ has done, that they will, like us, be able to draw near with faith, and feed on him in their hearts with thanksgiving.

Let us now go to the font, and start them on their Christian journey.


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