Church of England Diocese of Birmingham Frankley

Baptised into Christ’s Death

13 Jun 2020, 5:30 p.m.

Our readings remind us that one day we shall live with Christ. They are unsettling, because they remind us that we are going to suffer and die before we share Christ’s resurrection and promotion to glory.

Baptism is the sacrament that unites with Christ. It reminds us that when we choose to follow him and become his disciples, we don’t just share in his wonderful ministry of healing the sick and saving the sinner, we also share in his death. Being plunged into water is a symbol of dying and being buried with Christ and rising up is a symbol of sharing in his resurrection.

COVID 19, the loss of many who were close to us and the economic downturn has reminded us that we are all vulnerable. Death is a great leveller.

Economic downturn however is not. There will have been winners and losers through this pandemic, those who have lost their jobs and have little hope of finding one and those who have profited because there has been a greater need for the products they produce. Globally we will be poorer. Hard work, generosity, kindness and goodness will be needed more than it was before the crisis.

It will be tempting to continue to stay indoors and not reach out; to protect what we have and not take risks.

We are reminded that the way Jesus walked was not easy. He suffered death and was buried so that he might pour his life into us. His life was freely given, a gift we do not deserve, so that we might live his risen life.

We are plunged into and united in Christ in Baptism so that we might be dead to sin. When life becomes increasingly competitive again, it will be tempting to protect ourselves and forget about the needs of others.

If we are Christians, we have made the choice to follow a crucified Lord. Our gospels tell that Jesus was maligned, lies were told about him. He was identified with Baalzebub, the prince of demons; of using evil powers.

One of the most frightening things that can happen to us, particularly in an age where slander and suing others is commonplace, is to have lies told about us. It is very difficult to shake them off. Lies can follow us throughout our lives, appearing in our DBS checks, causing fear and disabling our ministries.

Jesus tells us not to fear because one day the truth will come out. We must be authentic truth tellers and proclaim what Jesus has spoken to us in secret in our inner lives through prayer from the housetops.

People may kill our bodies but they are unable to kill our souls which are united with him.

Jesus has ultimate power and authority over those who hurt others yet he doesn’t exercise that power brutally. He is merciful and loving.

God loves us. We are worth much more than what is bought and sold in the marketplace. “Even the hairs on our head are numbered.”

Proclaiming Christ crucified will not bring peace. Jesus tells us that it will divide our communities and families and we will be persecuted.

As Jesus loves us, so we are called to love and follow him before everyone and everything else, even our families. Jesus asks us to take up our cross, to identify with him in his death so we might live his risen life.

The present pandemic reminds us that we cannot save our lives or avoid physical death, so like Christ let’s not lose the time left to us here on earth. May others see Jesus in us as we share his love in word and deed without fear, knowing we loved by God.

Faithful Creator,

whose mercy never fails:

deepen our faithfulness to you

and to your living Word,

Jesus Christ our Lord.