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 world. 

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 and respectability.

'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 make sense.  

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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