…, we give thanks for our shared membership of the family of God, and as we give thanks for the harvest, we express our gratitude for all God has given to us.
People were bringing little children to Jesus so that he might touch them. The disciples turned them away, but when Jesus saw this he was indignant and said to them, ‘let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it
Its wonderful to be here today with Nairda, Sushmita, Prashanth, and Lee all here for Baptism today. Thank you for the invitation to preach at this special service Fr Matthew.
And the words from our gospel reading today could hardly be more appropriate. They are a reminder of Jesus care for and welcome of children and babies like Narinda. And he not only welcomed them, he also told his followers that they have something to teach us ‘anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it’. We don’t quite know what that means, but perhaps we can make some guesses. Little children and babies are not proud. They do not care what other people think of them, they are aware of their own needs and are not afraid to ask for them to be met, sometimes very loudly. To be a baby or little child is to know complete dependence. As we get older, we learn more and more to trust and rely on ourselves, and that is an important part of growing up. My children are aged 10, 12, and 14 and I am very grateful to be no longer pushing them around in buggies or putting butter on their toast. But Jesus points to the things we lose as we get older. As we learn to do so many things for ourselves, we must not forget that ultimately, we depend on God for everything. When we enter heaven, when we enter the kingdom of God, we need to do so knowing our dependence on him.
And today is a special celebration because as well as Baptising Nairda, Sushmita, Prashanth, and Lee have also come for Baptism. There is something special about adult Baptism, the conscious coming before God as his children, and asking for his gift of grace. In Jesus time, all candidates for Baptism were adults, and so as we baptise this family, we are reminded of the origins of the celebration of Baptism, those who came to Jesus by faith, to be washed clean by him.
As we celebrate Harvest festival today, we are also reminded of our dependence on God for the gift of the harvest, of everything we eat and drink. My last parish was a rural one on Northumberland, and at the Harvest festival, the farmers would gather to give thanks for the crop. I remember one of them saying to me, to be a farmer is to be a gambler. You never know that the seed you plant will grow, you can never be sure there will be a harvest. Only God knows that and God gives the harvest. Harvest is a reminder of all that God has given to us.
There are three parts to the Baptism service and each tells us a little about what Baptism is about
Oil, a sign of blessing and sending out
Water, being washed clean, ready for a new life in Christ
The Candle, Jesus the light of the world and sharing the light of Christ with others
The oil, the water, and the candle, all signs of God’s care for this family and his love for each of us.
And so, as we celebrate the Baptism of Nairda and her family, we give thanks for our shared membership of the family of God, and as we give thanks for the harvest, we express our gratitude for all God has given to us. As we remember the words of Jesus that ‘anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it’ we reflect on what Jesus means by that, that we do not need to do everything by our own strength, but can rely on Jesus to guard us, to guide us, and to protect us. As we share in our harvest meal after the service, we rejoice in the gift of Christian community of which Nairda and her family are a part and all that God gives to us through the gift of eachother. Amen