Isaiah 2: 1-5; Romans 13: 11-14; Matthew 24: 36-44
Baptism of Jacob Sunderland Stasolla
Good morning, and grace and peace, and to say to all on this Advent Sunday, “Happy New Year.” I know we have a festive coffee hour this morning, with thanks to Vincente and Pamela and Grace and Reid--and Jacob!--celebrating Jacob’s baptism—but I think we still have a few weeks to go before we can break out the champagne and confetti and sing Auld Lang Syne.
But turning the page on the Calendar of the Church Year, moving from Year C now to Year A in the Three Year Eucharistic Lectionary of the Revised Common Lectionary, now a year to spend with a focus on the Gospel according to St. Matthew, and in the Prayer Book Daily Office Lectionary, for those of us who follow that in our daily pattern of Morning and Evening Prayer, moving from Year Two to Year One. With what I think is the most beautiful and meaningful of all the Collects of the Church Year, living in our Anglican tradition for over 500 years, since the time when Archbishop Cranmer put pen to paper.
And of course in the long narrative structure of the Seasons of the Church Year, to stand now at Advent, a season about expectation, about gestation, about waiting in hope.
Like the Prophets of Ancient Israel we are invited to lean forward, to catch a vision of God’s life and power intervening in the story of humanity and in the history of the universe to restore and renew, to judge and to bless. As it was, as it is now, as it will be. Like John the Baptist we are invited to lean forward to discern and to announce the beginning of a new age. Like Mary, we are invited to a season of watchful waiting, as the Lord of Heaven and Earth enters this world in us, by means of our faithfulness. All about time, about this time, ancient times, future time, end time, about the right time, and about God’s time. Beginnings, endings, new beginnings.
And it just strikes me with all that as being especially appropriate to celebrate a baptism on Advent Sunday. As young Jacob is taken up by God into his arms and blessed and made a member of the Body of Christ, and with all the themes of initiation and potential, a new beginning. I certainly can’t help but look up above our high altar here at St. Andrew’s and see the wonderful Tiffany Window representation of Jesus and the Children. Let them come to me, and forbid them not, for to such belong the Kingdom of God.
At once we along with Jacob are all made new in the waters of baptism, and at the same time we are made very old, ancient, grafted into the organic life of God himself, dying with Christ in his death, and born anew in his resurrection. All of that happening at once, here and now, from before time and forever. Each of us baptized, but not many different baptisms.
Thus Paul in the Letter to the Ephesians: One Lord, one faith, one baptism. All of us made one, and sent forth on this day not to walk our own way any longer, but to allow our lives now to take on a cruciform shape, to be conformed in obedience, through word and sacrament and in faithful discipleship, so that the way of his Cross may become for us the way of life. And that from our hearts day by day there may flow his gifts of grace and healing, forgiveness, generosity, kindness, love.
So again, with Advent blessings for all, a Happy New Year ahead, a new year of healing and renewal and new life as we would grow in Christ and in love for one another and in our ability and desire to be his hands and his feet in loving service in his name, with excitement for Christmas, and most of all with thanksgiving. And so in the Psalm this morning: I was glad when they said unto me, we will go into the house of the Lord.And I would now ask the family and godparents of Jacob Sunderland Stasolla to come forward, as we celebrate all the great things God has done and is doing in our lives, and in the life of this parish family, and all around us, day by day.