Sermons from St Faith's
Drowning in God
Paula O'Shaughnessy, Sunday,
February 22nd, 2015
Baptism is a simulated drowning! Did you
know that? I only discovered this very
recently myself – and found it quite
shocking. We often hear about how baptism
is to do with the cleansing power of water, but
rarely that it is connected with drowning.
The person symbolically dies during the
baptism. The early baptisms were full body
immersions in water – hence the symbolic
drowning. They are then re-born to a new
life in Christ.
But Jesus' own baptism helps us to understand
the life of Christ and his subsequent
crucifixion. He submits to both – when he
could have turned away from both. After
the baptism, Jesus goes away from the immersion
in the water to the virtual absence of water in
the desert. There are contrasts, extremes
in both. He is tempted by Satan, in the
desert, but resists the temptations. Jesus
is without sin; he is from God; he is God.
Jesus is the hope and salvation of the
In following Christ, we too go away from the old
ways and towards the new, in Christ. The
Old Covenant is replaced with the all
sacrificing, all forgiving love from God for His
people. It is this promise of the love of
God which sustains Christians throughout the
world – in places of darkness and suffering.
Lent is our opportunity to stop and think about
all of this; to remind ourselves of what being a
Christian is all about. Indeed, it is the
chance to start anew at being good
Christians. Not all of it may make sense;
how do we reconcile the pain and suffering in
the world with a loving God?
But without faith in God, the darkness
overwhelms. By working in God's name; to
do good; to fight against evil, we change the
world – for the better. But we need to
open our eyes and be alert to what is really
happening. Evil is so subtle, so
insidious, blinding and confusing in its
treachery. Often it wears the smile or the
conventionality, the thin veneer of civilisation
'The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was
convincing the world he didn't exist'.
Those are the words of the main character in
that modern classic film, 'The Usual Suspects'.
Our need for God's love and mercy is as constant
as life itself; and the ever constant threats
from evil and suffering in all its many guises.
It is our own weaknesses that often cause us to
fall. The wrong choice, or when we lie to
ourselves about something. I always feel
relief when I've woken up to my mistakes – as
though it suddenly seems to click into place and
Talk is cheap; it is the hard facts – the
physical evidence which is the truth, the
reality. Jesus call us to love one another
– even our enemies.
In Russian, the verb 'to hate' – 'nyenaveedet'
literally means to be 'not at seeing'.
This offers us a new understanding.
To love – to not hate, we must be able to
see. When we don't see, we are deceiving
ourselves and we fail to love. To love our
enemies, we have to look and see the human
fraility in them, and understand that they are
loved by God.
The great social reformers of the nineteenth
century, overturned injustice (slavery, and
child labour for example). They brought
enlightenment to the land. Today, sadly,
there is still child labour, but it is overseas
– from which we in the west prosper. We
close our eyes to it – we do not see.
Through our own education and enlightenment we
can transform our understanding and so act
wisely, with Christian conscience.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary
the devil walks about like a roaring lion,
seeking whom he may devour
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