Baptism of Louie and Logan
2 July 2017
I sometimes watch a TV programme called ‘Who do you think you are?’ where well known people- I particularly remember Boris Johnson – discover more about their family history. There are usually surprises and shocks along the way! Today we have 2 little boys being baptised – Louie and Logan; I don’t know how much of their family history their Mum and Dad know, but here in church this morning we’re opening a new chapter in the history of their family. Can you put your hands up if you have been baptised, or think you have been baptised, whether as a baby or when you were older? Take a look at each other. Through baptism you are all related, all part of the same family. That probably wouldn’t come out in ‘Who do you think you are?’ So, Melissa and Jamie, Louie and Logan’s Mum and Dad, look around, these will all be members of your children’s family once they are baptised. If you think some of us here are unlikely relatives you need to be ready to take on board that wherever they go in the world, whether it’s India, Nigeria, Iraq, Thailand they’ll find relatives from their new family. To get baptised is to become a member of Jesus’ church, not just this church, but the church all over the world. You can enter a church in another country and it may look very different from the one back home, the people might all speak a different language, but you can still say to yourself, ‘I have a place here. These are my brothers and sisters. We share the same baptism.’
So when we baptise we use 3 things. They are ordinary, everyday things because God invites us to find him in things that are close to us. The first is water. This is a personal question, and you don’t have to answer it if you wish…how many of you had a wash before you came to church this morning?! Mmm, quite a few. That’s probably a good thing. We usually feel better after a wash. Although Louie and Logan will have been washed by their Mummy and Daddy before they came here today we’ll be doing that again when we pour water over their heads. This is not about making them squeaky clean so that they are good enough for church. It’s more like drawing a picture of what is happening in baptism. When L and L were inside their Mummy’s tummy they were in water. They developed, grew, were nourished in water until the time came for them to be born. Then they entered an entirely new world where they needed to breathe, to be fed through the mouth, to hear loud rather than muffled sounds…. Their new life was different from that of the foetus in the womb. They were no longer the Bump or the Bulge, or whatever you called them when you were pregnant. They were Louie and Logan, children of Jamie and Melissa. In the same way baptism is the start of a different life. It gives the boys a new identity. They go through the water of baptism and emerge as members of Christ’s body, the world wide church.
Then we use oil. I wonder if any of you puts oil in your bath? In ancient times oil was used for keeping skin supple, just as it is today by some of us, but it was also used on special occasions as a way of saying this person is important or called to a particular task. In Israel kings were anointed with oil. It was poured over their heads and then everyone shouted, ‘Long live the king!’ in church we use oil that has been blessed in our cathedral and we make the sign of the cross, the sign of Jesus Christ. Through baptism we are not just related to other Christians, but, because of Jesus, to God himself. We are his sons and daughters. It’s rather like joining a royal family. Hence the oil. Logan and Louie are like princes because they are God’s sons.
Then at the end of the service we give the boys a candle. The boys will have a new identity as members of this worldwide family of the church, and as ‘Princes’ Louie and Logan, God’s precious sons. This identity is like a light they carry inside them. It’s only a tiny light but even a tiny light makes a difference in a dark place. The candle is to remind them of this light. The boys can’t answer for themselves today. Parents and godparents have to do that. And it’s up to them and to members of the church family to encourage that light to grow bigger. One of the ways we can do this is by praying for the boys and bringing them to church.
Praying is especially important. There are 1000s of people all over the world who never have a prayer said for them. We don’t want that to be the case for these boys. I’m looking at godparents here, but also to all those who love these children. When you think of them, or if you have a picture of them on your phone or you see them on Facebook, or , parents, when you’re settling them down for the night, you can pray this prayer: May the Lord bless you and keep you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
2 July 2017