Baptism of the Ethiopian

Philip and EthiopianHow do you explain the importance of baptism? Let alone all the symbolism that is involved in the service? (At least in the C of E service; no bad thing!). This was my attempt for an all-age service using the baptism of the Ethiopian as its starting point.

I’ve also changed the name of the child involved.

Baptism of the Ethiopian; Reading: Acts 8:26-40

We heard in the reading about the Ethiopian who was baptised. He’d travelled hundreds of miles to worship God in Jerusalem. We might have a few long distance travellers here this morning to see Emily Hannah be baptised.

But, the Ethiopian had probably travelled further, and it probably took him longer as well; weeks and weeks to go and worship God. And that’s a reminder that we’re all on a journey. On a journey through life, and on a journey with God. So I brought my rucksack to help us think about those journeys. But, first, what do we need to take when we go on a journey?

So, now let’s find out what we need to take on our journeys of faith:

Shell – one of the prayers that we said talked about Christ’s pilgrim people.

Can anyone tell me what a pilgrim is? A pilgrim is someone who goes on a special journey to worship God – like the Ethiopian. He was a pilgrim. And pilgrims in Europe a few hundred years ago used to wear a badge in the shape of a cockle shell to show that they were on a pilgrimage, to show that they were pilgrims.

It reminds us that we can all be on a special journey through life to worship God. And we pray that Emily has taken her first steps on that journey this morning.

Water – what do you use water for?

Drinking and washing. Staying alive and staying clean. And that’s what water reminds us of in the baptism – that we need God. We need God in our lives, to give us eternal life, and to keep us clean, to forgive us for all the wrong things, for all the wrong turns we take on our journey.

Candle – so then, what do you use a candle for?

For light, to see by. You’ll get given this near the end of the service. And we’ll say ‘shine as a light in the world, to the glory of God’. God shows us the way to go, and we’re called to shine as light too – to help other people other their journeys with God, to show that God cares about each one of us.

Map – what’s this for?

For showing us the way. So we need Bible and service book for our maps on our journey of faith. The Bible to help us find out about God, and the service books for when we come together to worship God. Because, like all good journeys, we’re in this together. Emily has been baptised into God’s family, and we can come together to help each other on our journeys of faith.

Rucksack– and finally, this isn’t really a suitcase sort of journey. It’s not really a two-week lying in the sun sort of holiday. It’s much more a rucksack sort of journey – there’s adventure and hard work involved. But, like any good backpacking holiday you get to see amazing things, and do things you wouldn’t otherwise. Our journey of faith can be like that – the Ethiopian went back home and one of the earliest Christian churches, the Coptic church, is still in Ethiopia. We don’t know where our journeys will take us. But, we know that God sends his Spirit to help us, and we know that he will be always with us. And we also know that if we carry on our journeys our destination is with God, in a new perfect creation, as we prayed in the service.

That’s the journey that Emily has just started on, that’s the journey that we’re all invited to be on, and that’s the journey that we can take another step on today.

Let’s pray: Lord God, help us on our journeys of faith. Help us to take another step towards you, whether we’ve been on this journey for many years, or just a little while. Help us to know how much you love us, and the adventure that following you can be. Amen.

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