I am always amazed at that international conference around about this time of year which presents some of the inventions that people have come up with. It kind of showcases the best of the best. A few things that caught my attention this year were the following. Soon you will be able to give voice instruction to your TV, fridge and car and they will talk back – what station do you want on your TV? What temperature do you want your fridge? What music do you want to listen to in your car? Soon you will be able by voice instruction run your bath (How warm you want it to be), put on your pressure cooker (For how long) and flush the toilet (one or two flushes). Soon you will be able to bend your mobile phone screen (a good thing for those who are always breaking them) and your TV screens. Soon you will have suitcases that follow you round the airport handsfree. Door bells that act as cameras that allow people inside to see who is outside on their phone, clearly, at night and in the daytime, clear pictures. Headphones that crush external noise other than the music you are listening to. A treadmill, exercise bike, that powers your house, providing electricity for your home. A laser torch that detects blemishes on the skin and applies make-up (a dream for women and maybe men too who take ages putting in their make-up and looking nice every day). A machine that folds up your washing.
How amazing as human beings we are. We seem to be able to do the most amazing things. There is no mountain that is too big for us not to be able to climb. No sea to wide to swim. We are able to land probes on the moon and other planets, send probes to explore the far ends of the galaxy. How amazing we are as human beings. Our mind bends and stretches and expands, there is no problem that doesn’t have a solution.
Today, in the fest of the Baptism of our Lord, we go back to not a new shiny device, the latest ‘must have’ on the High Street - but to something that is old, venerable and precious. Not something we have invented but that has been given to us – namely baptism.
Through baptism God unites us with him and gives us his friendship. No ticks, no flashy things to impress us, but just this from the earliest times members of the Church have realised that in the baptism of the Lord there was a sign given to us that we should be baptised too, in order that we be united with God, to know his friendship.
In baptism we have a bond, a link, a connection, a solid and unbreakable promise from God will be our friend throughout our lives. A friendship he won’t take away, a promise he won’t break, a bond he won’t loosen, no matter what we do, we say or what we think.
Through it we become members of the Church, the body of Christ in the world, we are connected with one another, we are brothers and sisters, we are united with one another.
It’s a gift given to us, that won’t be taken away, that won’t break, that won’t age. It’s a gift forever, the gift of God’s friendship. A forever friendship.
Most weeks here in the church there are children baptised. They begin that journey of friendship with God in their life. Who knows where that journey will take them, who knows what they will see and do, who knows what they will have to face, who knows the pains and joys of life that will come their way? But they have the assurance that God gives them his friendship, he joins with them, he is bonded in a special way with them in their life through grace.
Our great thinkers and innovators, and inventors will not come up with a device to put us in contact with God. There is nothing as good as baptism. These waters that cleanse us and give us a new life. There will be no phone, no speaking device, no visual device that is coming down the line that will overtake baptism.
There is only one thing, the sacrament of Baptism. Jesus gives the sign by being baptised in the Jordan by John. A sign for us all to follow, to get into the water and come to, changed and renewed. Forever united with him, in a bond of friendship that remains.
Down through the centuries all of us have followed, all of us have taken that journey. In baptism we have found a new life and a connection and friendship with God. A friendship which is never lost, a bond that can never be broken. We have got into the water and climbed out again.
We are all living that baptismal life now. The sun of God’s mercy and kindness shines on us through baptism.