Homily by the Rev’d Glenn Empey, 12 January 2014
This is a happy day. This is a happy day for Emily and for her family. It is a happy day for the parish family. Probably even more importantly, this is a happy day far beyond the walls of this church; that is, beyond the walls of this church with a small ‘c’.
On this happy day, Emily becomes a member not of a church small ‘c’ but of the Church capital ‘c’.
The Church capital ‘c’ is the community of faith comprised of all Christians. It’s an amazing community to which to be part and to which to belong. Branch offices in just about every hamlet, town, village and city on most continents and, where not so widely spread, it’s certainly in major locations in just about every country to the far corners of the world.
Baptism is the means by which a person joins that community of faith. That community of faith is the Church capital ‘c’. That community of faith is the Body of Christ. That’s why it has a capital ‘c’. So you can see, it’s a pretty special community because it’s the community of faith; it’s the Body of Christ.
It’s a connection to every other person who commits to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. It’s a connection with all those saints who have gone before us and before Emily.
There are Saints such as Saint Matthew and Saint Aidan. Those are saints with capital s’s. There are also saints with small s’s. That’s you and that’s me and that’s Emily. That’s because saints with small s’s are the faithful, the faithful now and the faithful who have gone before.
They’re the members of the community of faith not just on earth but also in heaven. The communion of saints are also witnesses.That’s what makes it the happy and the special kind of day it is. That’s also what makes it a big deal.
In the Gospel, when you hear of saints with a small ‘s’, it comes from the Greek word that means the faithful. The community of faith naturally is made up of the faithful. So that’s you and that’s me and that’s what Emily is becoming this day.
So becoming part of that community of faith, the Body of Christ, the Church capital ‘c’, means you’re a saint with a small ‘s’. Yes, it’s true.
It’s those of us with small s’s who depend on what’s promised to us in Baptism. That’s because in our falling far short of the stature of a Saint with a capital ‘s’, due to the reality of our human condition, who we are as mere mortals, our fallen nature and our brokenness, we are still counted worthy and we’re still forgiven.
Baptism into the Body of Christ is our never-ending assurance of forgiveness through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and by his redeeming grace.We manage our journey, with all others in the community of faith, by the grace of God and the forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ. That’s how we learn along our journey of faith by moving on from however and from whenever we stumble on the way.
Baptism is about becoming a new creation. It’s about being always able to become a new creation –no matter what– because of that promise that we are not only forgiven but we are always forgive-able.
That’s a big deal. It is a big deal to embark on such a journey as a follower of Jesus, as a member of his community, and as part of his Body which is the Church capital ‘c’.
So there are many reasons for this to be a happy day. Another one is that it is the day on which the community of faith recognizes Jesus’ own Baptism. He was baptized as an adult which is the norm for Christian Baptism.
Today, parents and sponsors and the community of faith stand in on the part of Emily –because she is not an adult who can speak on her own behalf– to declare that we will support and guide her so she will learn about faith, experience faith, and take her part in the community of faith… in the Church capital ‘c’.
It is a big deal. And for all the reasons I’ve mentioned, that’s why this is such a meaningful day and that’s why it’s such a happy day.
Today, Emily becomes part of the Body of Christ, in the community of faith as a member of the Church capital ‘c’.
Remember that always… Remember also that, this day, she becomes a saint small ‘s’.
Remember that too always… but, Mom and Dad, try to remember it especially when she and her brother, Nathan, are teenagers.
Blessings and the Peace of Christ be upon you on this very special, on this very happy day …and always.
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