23 July 2017

‘You have led us to the living water.
Refresh and sustain us on our journey’

The Baptism font in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Patrick Comerford

Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick

Sunday 23 July 2017, Holy Baptism.

Genesis 7: 1, 7-16; John 15: 1-11.

You may have noticed there are two fonts here in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeston.

One is an old, historical font, moved from another church in the past into the porch. The other, the one we are using for this afternoon’s Baptism, is just inside the Church door.

The position of both these fonts is important. They are not there by accident, or for convenience, as though the back of the church is a good place to store them when they are not in use.

As we come into Church, they are reminders in that position that Baptism is our entry into the Church.

Baptism is not a naming ceremony. Louis is already well-known by the name his parents have given him. Nor is it a ceremony of welcome into the family. Louis is well-loved by his grandparents, uncles and aunts, the wider family.

Baptism is our entrance into the Church, we are incorporated into the Body of Christ. That is why the font is at the point where people enter the church, where people are welcomed into the Church.

There are eight sides to this font, reminding us of the family of Noah, all eight of them, who were saved from the waters of the flood in the ark. All eight of them. These eight we heard about in our first reading represent not a select group but the whole of humanity.

Sometimes, the inside of a church looks like an up-turned boat, the inside of an ark. That is why this part of the church is called the nave. In Baptism, we are all in the one boat together, we are all formed into one new extended family, we are all in this together, equals because we are one in Christ.

In the waters of Baptism, we are saved by being incorporated into the Body of Christ. We are in Christ, and Christ is in us.

Think of how the waters of creation are at the beginning of the Creation story; the slaves are brought from slavery to freedom through the waters of the Red Sea; Christ lets the Samaritan woman at the well know that he is the Living Water – as the lettering in the Sanctuary remind us, he is the Fountain of Life.

Water pours from his side at the Crucifixion, at the end of his Passion. And the Disciples know he is Risen when they met him in the morning by the waters of the lake.

And in our Gospel reading, we are reminded that we are grafted on to the one vine. The vine is not just a reminder of Louis’s French connections. The vine knows of no individual grape.

We cannot produce the good wine from one grape. Baptism is our grafting onto the one vine. Baptism is our incorporation into the Body of Christ.

There is one water of Baptism. And when Louis, in time, comes to receive Holy Communion, he will be showing how he is fully part of the one body in the one bread and in the one wine.

And so, as members of the Body of Christ, we share the water of Louis’s Baptism, must keep him in our prayers constantly after this day.

In the words of the Post-Communion Prayer today, we pray:

God of our pilgrimage,
you have led us to the living water.
Refresh and sustain us
as we go forward on our journey,
in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Revd Canon Professor) Patrick Comerford is Priest-in-Charge, the Rathkeale and Kilnaughtin Group of Parishes. This reflection was shared at a Baptism in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick, on Sunday 23 July 2017.

‘With thee is the fountain of life’ … a panel in the sanctuary in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

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