Happy New Year! I hope that Christmas was a blessing to you and your families. Even after four years I still cannot get my head around the idea of celebrating Christmas in the summer. Swimming in the sea on Boxing Day sounds bizarre. But this is what we did with our grandchildren at Opossum Bay. The children claim to enjoy ‘Jetty Jumping’ but when it comes to the decision about who will jump in first it always seems to be grandpa who has to take the lead! We stand on the jetty for several minutes plucking up the courage to jump in. It is a scary moment of fear and excitement.
I have never had the experience of being baptised as an adult but I imagine the fact that someone is going to immerse you in the water of baptism can be similarly scary. Symbolic perhaps of how change; turning around; repentance can be rather daunting. As Christine and I prepare for retirement and all the changes that it will bring to our lives we are experiencing that strange mixture of fear and excitement. (As we stand on the edge of the jetty ready to jump!)
The gospel reading for Sunday is Matthew’s version of the baptism of Jesus. The story of his baptism is also recorded in the gospels of Mark and Luke but it is only in Matthew that we have the conversation between Jesus and John about whether Jesus needed to be baptised. Why if, as early Christian’s believed, Jesus was sinless does he need to be baptised? This question can open up pages of theological debate but perhaps what is happening in the story is very simple. Jesus is wanting to identify himself with the whole human experience – God with us and God as one of us.
In the all of the waters of life, calm or troubled Jesus is there with us sharing our experience but encouraging us to emerge into a new life.
Perhaps as you enter the New Year you will have your own ‘Jetty Jumping’ to do and you may well be fearful about that. Know for sure Immanuel – God with us, sharing life and encouraging new life.
Rev Graham Sturdy
Hobart Scots Memorial Uniting Church