The Baptism of Our Lord A’23
8 January 2023
Matthew 3.13-17
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
North Little Rock, Arkansas
The Rev. Carey Stone <+>

As you walk into most Episcopal churches, the first piece of furniture                                              you will encounter will be the baptismal font. This is no accident, but it’s on purpose, for it is baptism that is the gateway into Christ and the Church.  It is in this water where our true identities are sealed, and we are set upon the path of our destiny which is to finally arrive at the place of our origins and to discover who it is that we really are – the unconditionally loved sons and daughters of God.

But make no mistake, the powers of this world will try to bully us, charm us, or seduce us in an orchestrated effort to draw us away from the love of God and from our true identity. This is one of the reasons that baptisms are not usually performed in private but together, as a community. This gives us several reminders throughout the year of where our true home is – in the family of God. 

Today, it will be our joy to welcome Garrison Dean Simpson as the newest child of God in our midst, and all of us will be reminded of our own baptisms and who we are and who’s we are in Christ – a precious, one-of-a-kind creature made in God’s own image.

In the milieu of our competitive and secular society our human personalities are under constant assault by the various messages that seek to manipulate us, such as we “aren’t good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, or wealthy enough.” Of all the ways we will try and counter these messages in order to feel better about ourselves, they all manifest in one of two ways:  by either pulling others down in order to build ourselves up, or by constantly pumping ourselves up in an effort to feel superior to others by comparison. But the message of our faith is neither. The message of our faith says that Christ came into the world to declare us God’s beloved children. Our identity comes as a gift and is not earned, deserved, or maintained by our own efforts. As St. Peter wrote in his first letter: “For you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”[1]

Once when our daughter Emily was somewhere around five years old, she was riding in the backseat of our car with her mother, when she suddenly leaned over to her mother and whispered, “I’ve got something to tell you that nobody else knows.” My wife smiled curiously and asked, “what?” And Emily said, “I am a princess.” At its best, this is what the sacrament of Holy Baptism does – it makes princesses and princes out of us all – sons and daughters of the King, and it will take the rest of our lives to fully become who we already are. Amen.



[1] I Peter 2.9 NKJV