A short reflection on our readings for this Sunday from Genesis 1:1-5, Acts 19:1-7 & Mark 1:4-11.
This Sunday, during our morning service at Marown, we should have been joined by our friends from the Crosby Methodist Chapel as we celebrated together the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ and marked Plough Sunday with horses and a plough outside the church. After being blessed with six months of near normal activity we are combatting the invisible foe of Covid 19 again with a ‘circuit breaker lockdown’. We worship together in our hearts and minds-and via various social media-but not face-to-face.
Baptism is one of the services not permitted (unless in emergency under strict conditions) under the current church closure. Fortunately, we have no such services planned so no families to disappoint, no spiritual journeys to disrupt. Both themes for our worship today aim to reconnect us to something from the past that may now have been lost. As we remember Jesus baptism we think again of our own spiritual development, we might ask ourselves how that aspect of our lives is progressing, what has changed over the years, have we grown closer to God or more distant……
Similarly, as we think about the agricultural year and seeing the horses and the plough we may be reminded of how things used to be in our local area and how the land was once cultivated before advanced mechanisation. Perhaps, we note how distant we have become from the food supply chain with fewer people working the land and a greater range of produce coming from far away places that we know little or nothing about.
It might be tempting to get caught up in a wave of nostalgia, remembering how life used to be when…..
- most people professed a Christian faith,
- relied on local farms for food and employment
- and pandemics happened in foreign places or in past ages.
We can find comfort and reassurance that in the beginning all was chaos until God brought order and stability. Through the ministry of John the Baptist the reassurance of the forgiveness is given to those people who seek to turn their lives around and re-orientate themselves to God through repentance. Jesus, in His baptism, aligns Himself with humanity’s sinful nature despite His own innocence, offering further reassurance that we are not abandoned. Most amazingly of all, not only did God come among us in the person of Jesus but God’s Holy Spirit remains among us and, at our baptism, rests upon us throughout our lives-whether we acknowledge that divine presence or not. There is no service of ‘unbaptising’, what is done is done. We may fall away from God, deny God or become indifferent to God but God sticks with us no matter what.
The years may roll on, ways of life change but God remains constant. A pandemic may alter how we worship God as congregations but nothing need alter how we praise God as individuals. God spoke to Jesus saying, ‘You are my Son, the beloved; with you I am well pleased’. God longs to say similar words to each one of us, to acknowledge us each as an adopted child of God, who have lived lives pleasing to our heavenly Father no matter what the circumstances of our daily existence, for God will always be with us to guide, encourage and save us.
‘The Lord shall give strength to his people;
The Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace’
Ps 29 v 11