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 You are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and signed with the cross, to mark you as Christ’s own forever. At some point most here had those words spoken over them, and for most here they don’t remember.  Often more meaningful are the baptisms of those we love; our children, grandchildren or those we sponsor.  It is a strong family memory, an important time… one I look forward to, far more than the memory of my own baptism…which I no longer remember.             It is the community aspect that many of us remember strongly…being made part of a community, surrounded by family and friends and committing the, usually, infant to the care of God and that community.  In fact, it is usually the community aspects that I focus on in preaching.  The involvement of the community in the life of the child, the responsibility and promises that we incur and make as members of the community of faith, and family of the newly baptized.             It makes sense that community would be the focus in our baptisms because we traditionally baptize infants.   However, what we lack with infant baptism is the unique and amazing experience of what our brothers and sisters in Christ call a ‘believer’s baptism’.  The baptism of one who has made the conscientious decision to become a Christian.  This doesn’t mean one is more valid than the other, in fact, In the history of the church there have been MANY manifestations of the rite and sacrament of baptism.  These ranged from whole family baptism upon the conversion of the head of the house, to an intense catechesis program of over 3 years.             And it is no wonder that there has been such incredible variety of baptismal theology, as even within the gospels themselves there is a fair bit of variety.              In the gospel of Luke Jesus’ baptism seems quite a personal thing,  whereas in Matthew and Mark it is more communal. Regardless of whether a baptism is large or small, private or public …what we understand is that  when we are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit…the same words that were spoke to Jesus , are spoken to us.              You are my child, my beloved, with you I am well pleased.  We are certainly not THE Son of God, but we certainly ARE children of God…co-inheritors with Christ and through our baptism this is re affirmed.             I say re affirmed because it has always been so. In baptism we say: You are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and signed with the cross, to mark you as Christ’s own forever.             In baptism we are washed clean by the waters, purified by the Holy Spirit, forgiven by the grace of God, redeemed forever by the blood of Christ because we are precious in God’s sight and honoured…and in baptism God says to each one of us… I love you.             This is an amazing and miraculous thing… a blessing that cannot be under emphasized. After all, how hard is it for us to love one another … to put aside our anger, prejudice and social stigmas and love each other.  To forgive those who have wronged us and put aside the hurt that we have suffered and truly love each other.  And we…, we run from God, betray and abandon God, doubt and fear God …and despite all of this…despite the very fact that humanity crucified God and betrayed God in all sorts of ways…God still says.   I love you. And then proceeds to demonstrate that love each and every day, and in may ways and forms.  Not the least of which is found symbolized in the rituals and sacraments we participate in each week.  The loving miracle of Christ’s sacrifice and unity with us in Eucharist, the grace and forgiveness that is given freely to us because of the mercy and love of God.  And the blessings found in baptism.  The grace that washes away our sins, the giving of the Spirit which awakens our gifts, and the love of God which is spoken to us in word and deed as we baptize and are baptized. “you are my child, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” We are each a beloved child of God, precious to God and that love is eternal and unchanging. In baptism we realize this love and it is from that day on that we are called to live it out.  To acknowledge that we are beloved, that our neighbours are beloved, that to see with the eyes of God is to see through the eyes of love.  The eyes of a parent seeing their newborn child, the eyes of a lover gazing at their beloved. There is no love greater than that of God for us….for God so loved the world, each one of us in it, that he gave his only begotten son to the end that we should not perish, but have eternal life.    John 3:16 “we love because God first loved us” 1 john 4:19 In baptism God lays claim to us, slips on the wedding ring one could say, makes his vow as we make ours and marks us as Christ’s own forever.  God’s own beloved.  Now and always. As we celebrate the renewal of our baptisms today, as we celebrate the Eucharist each week and as we live out our baptismal covenant…we do so as beloved children of God, husbands and wives of God, as lovers of God.  As we go through our lives doubts and joys, fears and passions, good and bad…and all the rest.  There is one constant…one eternal blessing … one thing to always remember. Never forget….you are loved. amen