- Fr. Guillermo A. Arboleda
Baptism & The New Creation (Trinity Sunday, A)
Baptism & The New Creation (Genesis 1:1-2:4; Matthew 28:16-20)
On this Trinity Sunday, we are blessed to hold a baptism for Edison, the child of Courtney and Eduardo. Baptism is a time of joy, hope, and expectation. We are celebrating the birth of this child, but also marking the beginning of his lifelong journey in the Christian faith.
This is a time of initiation. We often think of baptism as a way of joining a congregation. And that’s true; Edison will be a member of St. Matthew’s as of about 10:45 this morning. But that’s not the most important thing happening in his life or in the community’s life today.
The most important thing is that God is at work among us. God is doing what God has always done: Creating and Re-Creating.
God made Edison, forming him in the womb. God has brought Edison into this sinful and broken world, surrounded by loving, but ultimately imperfect family and friends. And in order to prepare him to love God and love his neighbor despite how hard that is, God is Re-Creating him today.
God is making Edison into a New Creation. Edison will be initiated into an even more perfect Community than our own. Edison, like all the baptized, will be welcomed into the Trinity, in love and fellowship with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The creation of the world points to the miracle of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: All of us are raised with him.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2).
In the first creation, the Holy Spirit hovered over the formless waters of the earth and made a world out of nothing. The world was good the way it was, but it didn’t stay that way. Eventually, people allowed their jealousy and pettiness to change them from sisters and brothers into rivals and enemies. Sin and Death became strong.
Jesus Christ lived in that world and preached a message of peace and love. He sought to point people toward God’s original vision for the world, in which we live in harmony with one another. But people killed him because they rejected his goodness and love. Learning to love neighbors costs us some of our pride and selfishness, and that price was too high for many to pay. So Jesus was overcome by the powers of sin… or so it seemed.
On the third day, the Holy Spirit hovered over a tomb outside Jerusalem. In this New Creation, God defeated death by bringing Jesus back to life. When he is raised, it’s not just a special moment for him and his life. The New Life of Jesus becomes a pathway for all people. Humanity is healed and restored in the body of Jesus. So we get to participate in this restoration too. Each of us is and will be created anew, just like Jesus.
The Resurrection of Jesus is the lynchpin of our faith. By it we are held together as one Body of Christ. By it we have hope in the face of all of life’s trials and despairs. By it, the Spirit draws us back into unity with God and each other.
The waters of baptism ties all these threads together. As the Spirit hovers over these waters, Edison prepares to die. But he will not die without hope. He will die to the powers of sin and death and darkness, but then he will rise again in the love and power of God.
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).
Baptism is our participation in the New Creation. It’s an outward and visible sign of what God is doing in each of us. Christ invites us to death so that we may have new life. The God who made the heavens and the earth is making all things new so that the world might be healed.
This applies to individuals like Edison who receive the sacrament, but also to the community of faith. We go through cycles of death and new life. Christ is raising us continually from the depths of despair and darkness in the world. Christ is shining light onto the good, beautiful, and loving things of the world, as glimpses of the Divine.
We must be prepared to die to whatever holds us back and ask God to raise us up into a new life. The Holy Spirit of God is doing this in Edison’s young life and the Spirit is doing it in this 161 year old parish.
So as Edison is baptized and as St. Matthew’s once again witnesses this baptism, we pray for a new creation. A New Creation is going to be better than the old one. It’s stronger and more resilient in the face of evil and sin. It’s hopeful when the world seems hopeless. This New Creation is empowered by God tell stories of love, joy, and healing.
The New Creation is finally about the Holy Trinity, One God, making room for each of us in that Community of Perfect Love. The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit want you and you and you and (today especially) Edison to live in a Love so deep, so high, so strong, and so wide, that you can’t help but share it with those around you.
The Christian faith is Good News of love, joy, and peace for the world. We share the message that despite all the hardships of the Old Creation, all Authority on heaven and earth is given to Jesus Christ, the Risen Savior (Matt 28:19). And through him, God is making all of us new, one baptism at a time. Amen.