Sunday was the last of the now usual three Sundays of Christmas that the Church celebrates in England and Wales: Holy Family, Epiphany, Baptism of the Lord. The sequence of feasts provides a fine opportunity for exploring the meaning of Christ’s incarnation and our incorporation into Christ through faith and baptism, faith’s first Sacrament.
The first of the two alternative Collects for Sunday’s feast highlighted our new relationship with God through Christ.
Almighty ever-living God,
who, when Christ had been baptized in the River Jordan
and as the Holy Spirit descended upon him,
solemnly declared him your beloved Son,
grant that your children by adoption,
reborn of water and the Holy Spirit,
may always be well pleasing to you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
They say you cannot choose your blood family – but we are all members of our water family, the family formed through Baptism, by God’s choice: we are adopted by him, lovingly welcomed into his family.
The season of Christmas is a season when we are ‘confronted’ by our own families – by the joys and challenges we find there. We tell stories and watch fairy stories – Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White – which tell of (other?) dysfunctional families!
And we do this safe in the re-telling of the Christmas story – the bigger, truer, endlessly resilient story of God’s family, a story told to heal and hold us together.
There is work still to be done on our families and the human family, but God helps with a new start to the work. It has firm foundations….
Photograph is of the traditional site of the baptism of Jesus on the river Jordan. It is now an international border, separating Jordan and Israel. Crossing from one side to the other is prohibited. Pilgrims approach either from Jordan or from Israel. What might be a sign of unity is another sign of division. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.