I wonder what the next topic I’ll get to preach about at church will be and will I be able to work a glass or two of water into it somewhere?
This morning I had the opportunity to speak at St Clement’s on the baptism of Christ. It is an important passage – you can tell that because it turns up in all four gospels (Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3 and John 1). That puts it on a par with the Passion narrative (the death and resurrection of Jesus) and well ahead of, say Christmas (only in two of the gospels and each of those only has part of the story). In brief, my working theory is that Jesus can’t have been baptised for the same reasons that Christians are baptised (into his death and hence into life – see Romans 6) but that it can be seen as a commissioning and anointing – if you like, a coronation in the crazy, right-side up kingdom of God.
The glass? Early on I dunked a paper napkin in the water, demonstrating how the full immersion completely and irrevocably changes the nature of the napkin. Out of all the things people noted after the service, that was the illustration that most stuck with people (even more than the photo of me without a beard!). It was something that only came to mind after I’d gone to bed last night – not quite in a dream but a thought as I drifted off and one that I remembered in the morning. It also then meant that, after I’d set the napkin aside, I had a glass of water to sup on while I spoke, for a double win.
The previous illustration was when I spoke about yeast (and seeds) back in September and showed the difference between flour and water with and without yeast in the mix. While one doesn’t want to be too contrived in preaching, I think I could probably work it as a gambit one more time if the next talk isn’t too far away and there is some sensible way I can work a glass of something into the flow of things.