Today we celebrate the third great theophany of the Christmas season, the baptism of the Lord. Until 1955, this was not given a separate feast-day in the calendar but was celebrated on Epiphany. In the light of recent events in France and Nigeria, I think it is helpful to be able to reflect on the universal nature of Christ’s revelation and mission and its meaning for us today. We are not simply recalling an event that happened two thousand years ago. We are participating in it, and we must expect to be changed by it, whether we will or not. For the baptism of Christ to have its full effect in us, we must be silent for a while and join him at the Jordan. There has been too much shouting in recent days, as though slogans could achieve what only patience and quiet endeavour can.
In the collect we pray that we may be made sharers in his divinity who humbled himself to share in our humanity. Who would dare to pray such a prayer were it not given us by the Church? It is a reminder that we are more than a jumble of conflicting moods and emotions, thoughts and feelings. We are indeed ‘sons in the Son’, sharers in Christ’s own mission. Like him, we must be attentive to the Father; like him we must bind up the wounds of sin and division. If we are tempted by thoughts of vengeance, we must dismiss them from our minds. When Christ went down into the Jordan, he took us with him. We are a new creation and must undergo a renewal of mind and heart. As the prophet Isaiah says,
my thoughts are not your thoughts,
my ways not your ways – it is the Lord who speaks.
Yes, the heavens are as high above earth
as my ways are above your ways,
my thoughts above your thoughts.
Christ did not fail his Father. Let us pray we may not fail him, either.