Today the Church commemorates the Baptism of Christ. This third national lockdown is going to be a baptism that we will all be baptised with. None of us can escape it – it is a universal experience of stress and anxiety that will test our ability to cope.
The Prime Minister in his address to the nation on Monday night alluded to the fact that this will be the most difficult lockdown of all. We enter lockdown with the numbers of people contracting the virus at a rate higher than it has ever been in the UK. A reminder that the days and weeks ahead are going to be tough.
So we pray for ourselves and those we love; we pray for our nation; we pray for those on the front line in the NHS; for all essential workers. We pray for all who seek to bring hope and to help us remain connected. And we pray for deliverance.
My sermon today reflects on Christ’s baptism alongside our experience of lockdown and suggests that we can find hope in the midst of feeling out of control, in the midst of chaos and in the face of death.
Sometimes when we surrender control something surprising happens, we can be open to new possibilities and we can experience hope. By entering the waters of the Jordan river Jesus enters into our chaos, all our fights to keep our heads above water. And Christ’s baptism points to hope even in the midst of death. These are the words written on the font at Portsmouth Cathedral. I think they speak to us at the start of this third and most difficult lockdown.
“When you went down into the water it was like the night, and you could see nothing, but when you came up again it was like finding yourself in the day. That one moment was both your death and your birth”.
It may feel like the night at the moment. But hope will come as surely as the dawning of a new day.
Virtual Service 10 January