January 22, 2011

Come to the Water, Light to the Nations

The Servant Song
composed by Richard Gillard
Listen Here

Brother, sister let me serve you.
Let me be as Christ to you.

Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant, too.
We are pilgrims on a journey.
We are brothers on the road.

We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load.
I will hold the Christ-light for you
In the night time of your fear.

I will hold my hand out to you;
Speak the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping.

When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you.
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven,
We shall find such harmony
Born of all we’ve known together
Of Christ’s love and agony.

Brother, sister let me serve you.
Let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant, too.

At this season, after the feast of Christmas, there comes in the Gospel story of John, the baptism of the Lord. And through this story we learn several important things about the infant who grows to become the Christ. First, we learn that the 'lamb of G-d' is then not a warrior, that in baptism the child is filled with the Holy Spirit of God, that the child is the divine creation of G-d. In baptism, the child is both interiorly and externally announced as a creature with a life in the Spirit. While many faith communities today find it fit to argue and debate endlessly, to schism and separate from others over the nature, timing and significance of baptism, both the Orthodox and Catholic Christian communities see fit to follow both the Torah and the later Christian gospels for guidance on the matter, choosing to christen or name a child before the Lord in its early days, after birth.

In the Book of Isaiah 49-52, there are the four passages about the "Suffering Servant" in which a servant whose identity is unclear, yet this One is to be chosen by the Lord for a particular service. He is not merely to restore the people to a faith, but to moreover be the sign of God's presence in the world. Thus over millennia, the Servant has come to represent both individuals and whole communities in faith. We are called then to be the light of the nations.

In baptism then, one is called in the Holy Spirit to a life of light. The baptized then live in the light, for help to all, to bear the load, to share in community the gifts which the Spirit then brings. Many are baptized as tiny infants with the faith of their parents, a constant light; others come to the waters of baptism as adults to signify that while they may have once seen only darkness, now they see light. Guided by established members of the faith community, the baptism is their exterior announcement, that they, the light of the world, have been made anew, given life by the Holy Spirit. For them, their eyes shine brightly; peace and joy is their heart.

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