Sunday 13 January 2019
The Baptism of the Lord – Feast
Endings and Beginnings
The annual season of light draws to a close. people traditionally pack up their Christmas decorations since last Sunday (Epiphany) and leave them aside for another year. January is a bleak month at least in our northern climate- but we know at the back of our minds that winter is passing, light is increasing steadily and that warmer times are coming even as “Yellow”/“Orange” and (God preserve) us “Red” alerts seem to abound more and more in weather forecasting.
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord that we mark today is a strangely appropriate feast with which to formally end the Christmas Season and to begin the season we call “Ordinary Time” that will continue until Lent 2019 dawns on March 6th next. I say “appropriate” as Birth and Baptism marks endings and beginnings. Two people cease being individuals and become parents- the child leaves the womb for the world- for both child and parent it’s an ending and a beginning.
We may feel a bit torn about things ending- be it Christmas or a life or some stage of life we are moving through. But if we did not have an ending in life to things how else could we appreciate what has taken place. Life is always lived forward and understood backward. It is the only way that anything makes sense – if we grasp it is finite. If it were infinite and continuous we could not hope to understand.
We use the term “Baptism of Fire” to describe someone coming through a very intense experience for the first time. I’m not sure if its’ roots lie in scripture where the Gospel makes reference to the fire of the Holy Spirit with baptism. Fire warms and in the case of the combustion engine, that controlled fire is the reason we can move a vehicle. We need the fire of the Holy Spirit to propel us onward in life. A spirit of power, a spirit of love, a spirit of favour- the Spirit of God.
Each of us is a mystery- a unique work of creation. The power of life breaks in upon us and the fact that we are not in this world by our own choice makes us sense that there is an initiative that precedes us and makes us exist. Simply put- we’re here for a reason. Each one of us is a personal “Mission” on this earth. What it is- we don’t know. But through every day/week/month/year we shall unpack it with God’s help and under God’s favour who rests on us.