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Sermon for 14 December 2014

 
John 1: 6-8, 19-28

Many congratulations to Rory and Scarlett, on joining God’s family.

Why have Rory and Scarlett just been baptised? Why do we have baptisms? They asked John the Baptist the same question, in the passage that we have just heard. He answered, ”I baptise with water, but among you is someone you do not know”. He’s talking about Jesus, so while baptising he is straight away pointing to Jesus.

John basically said, ”Baptism is a good start, but you need to get to know Jesus.” It’s a first step, a symbol of washing our outside as a picture of what happens when the Holy Spirit comes and washes us inside. We are totally forgiven for our past, and we all have a past. We are freed from all our shame, and we all have shame. We are filled with new love, joy, peace – and the Holy Spirit helps us get to know Jesus. John told people that relationship with God was what they needed.

So, many of them went and got to know Jesus. They discovered someone who was incredibly kind, full of love, but also strong, who lived a perfect life, who came up with the most wonderful teaching the world has ever heard, who healed people miraculously – and he also told people pretty firmly that they had ignored God and they needed to turn back to him.

Quite a few people didn’t like that. They hated it. They hated him. So they killed him. But he came to life again, proving that he had power over death. That’s one of the things that convinces me he really was God: in my opinion the evidence for the resurrection is very strong. He came to life again and didn’t die again. Instead he went up to heaven, and rules the whole world from there. And he sends his Holy Spirit to everyone who asks. 

Some people say, "We can’t see Jesus. How can he be here if he’s invisible?” But if you think about it there are several things we can’t see that we know are real. The air we’re breathing right now, we can’t see that but it’s real, and we’d be dead without it. Radio waves and TV signals are all around us, and we can’t see them. If we know how to tune into them and they can be a source of knowledge and inspiration.

It’s like that with Jesus. We can’t see him but he is real. If we know how to tune into him, he can be a source of life and breath and knowledge and inspiration, much more than TV.

And when we do, the Bible says we receive love, joy, peace, forgiveness, assurance that God loves us, comfort, guidance, strength, fellowship, help to do the right thing and overcome temptation, patience…

… and we get to know Jesus. We find we want to worship him – he is the God who made the universe, and John the Baptist said that he wasn’t worthy even to touch his feet. And when we worship him the Bible says he lifts us up and calls us his friends. He came to earth laying aside his glory and it’s as if he took off his crown and put it on our head. He wants to know us so well that he wants us to join his royal family.

Imagine if the Queen walked into church right now with the crown on her head and her royal robes, and walked down right where I’m standing here. And she takes her crown off and gently puts it on Rory’s head. That’s what Jesus has done. The Bible in one place calls it a crown of beauty. It’s a very beautiful phrase.

Baptism is the start of all that, so it’s quite a thing. But the main thing is to realise that among us, invisible but real, is someone wonderful that we can get to know, and if we know him already we can keep getting to know him better and better.

How do we do that? In one sense it’s easy, as easy as falling off a log. Just ask. Jesus said ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. It’s a promise, and you can trust God’s promises. He said draw near to God and he will draw near to you. We can all do that this Christmastime. We can read the Bible, pray, go to an Alpha course – there’s one starting here in January – read a book from the bookstall at the back of church, ask a friend... whatever works best for you. We’re all different. 

Especially with Christmas coming up we can be thankful, we can take time to be still and know that He is God, give generously to people in need, to think, to show love to our family and friends and neighbours – particularly the ones we find hard to love. We can ask the Holy Spirit’s help to restore that relationship that is broken or difficult.

Whatever we do, let’s do everything we can to know and love Jesus more deeply as we head towards Christmas.

Posted: 16-12-2014 at 23:07
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