Wet and Windy
Mark 1:4-11

I have given this sermon the title Wet and Windy because there are a couple of elements clearly in action within our readings today.  First is the water being used in baptism, both in the baptism John was performing, as well as in Jesus’ own baptism.  Then of course is the appearance of the Spirit, which is mentioned in all three readings.  You probably know that the word used for Spirit, pneuma, can also be translated as breath or wind.  So let’s talk about the wet and windy life of a Christian!

On Monday we decided to brave the 40 degree temperatures and head to the beach for a family outing.  The water temperature at Anglesea is currently around 17 degrees, so the contrast between the offshore breeze of around 40 and the sea of around 17 was quite dramatic! The water and the wind were both there in abundance.  The incredible power of the water to build into waves strong enough to propel dozens of people at a time on boogie boards, surf mats and body surfing kept everyone amused for hours.  When you missed a wave the power of the wind flicked drops of water into the air and cascaded down on us every time.  But that was the only way we noticed the wind until we came back onto the shore above the waterline and it was like opening the door of an oven.  It dried us off in minutes and made us want to go back into the relatively freezing water.

Then on Monday night and Tuesday morning when the storms and cool change came through we experienced another contrast.  It was wet because of the heavy rain falling from the sky and the wind was suddenly cool but equally as powerful, knocking branches off of trees and scattering leaves all along the road.  We opened up our houses to allow the wind to blow through and take away some of the heat of the previous days that had built up.

We are all fully aware of the power of the wind and water in our lives; we experience it here in Melbourne almost constantly regardless of who we are or what our belief systems are.  So what about the wet and windy life of a Christian, do you experience the water of your baptism more than once, do you notice the Holy Spirit blowing through in a powerful way in your life?

When Martin Luther experienced doubt or fear he would remind himself “I am baptized”.  He didn’t say I am a Christian or I am a strong person, or I can do this, he drew strength from his baptism, when God claimed him as his own, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit he was he was given all that he needed for life and salvation.  He received the Holy Spirit as the water was sprinkled on him and the word of God was spoken over him, he became a child of God.

The same thing happened for each and every one of you at your baptism.  The pastor or priest said pretty much the same words, which were commanded by God, and sprinkled or poured water over your head, and you too were made a child of God.  You got wet and the pneuma, the Holy Spirit was breathed into you by God.

On the brochure we give to parents who have brought their child to be baptised it says that our baptism is not like a certificate, kept in a drawer somewhere, simply recording something that happened in the past.  It is more like a passport, saying who we are and who we belong to.  It is valuable and important, something for us to keep with us all the time on our journey through life.

So if we follow in the footsteps of Martin Luther and regularly remember our baptism and remind ourselves that we are baptised, we are God’s children, we walk in his love and grace, forgiven for the sins of our ancestors and our own, we are walking wet.  Remembering doesn’t affect how much grace we receive, it doesn’t make us any more or less holy, but it does help us to live in the peace and hope that God has given us.

What situations have you encountered that have wound you up, made you stressed and feeling lost and alone?  There are so many things that happen in our lives that can make us feel as though we’re being tossed about by the wind and the waves in the middle of a huge storm like we had here in the Eastern Suburbs early this week.  But God wants us to remember our baptism, to realise that in the middle of the wind is his Holy Spirit, reminding us, guiding us, encouraging us, helping us to cope and remain calm and at peace.  In the middle of the rain storm or the waves that wash around us and threaten to swamp us is a reminder of the water that was poured over us at our baptism washing away our sins and with the word and the Holy Spirit making us clean.

This is the wet and windy life of a Christian that I mentioned earlier.  What do we have that others don’t?  We have the Holy Spirit with us, we have God the Father watching over us and his Son Jesus, in whose names we were baptised caring for us and loving us no matter what it is that we are experiencing.

Even Jesus who was already filled with the Spirit because he is a part of the triune God was baptised by John in the Jordan River.  He had nothing to repent of, so the baptism of repentance and being washed in the water of the Jordan would really have had no special effect on him, but he did it anyway, for our sake, and then when he rose up from the water the Holy Spirit descended on him, he was wet and the pneuma came upon him, the presence of the Spirit was important for us to see and understand and the voice of the Lord coming from heaven; “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”  Father, Son and Spirit all present and acting on our behalf.

You too who have been to the waters of baptism and been baptised in the triune name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and have had those words spoken of you, This is my Son/Daughter, whom I love.”  Because of the son who gave his life for you and by the power of the Holy Spirit God is also pleased with you, not by your own works and good deeds but through God’s incredible grace and mercy.

Enjoy the wet and windy life of a Christian, it is God’s gift to you.