January is about fresh starts and new beginnings. We make our New Year’s resolutions full of enthusiasm in the hope that they will last beyond the second week of January! So too in church we are encouraged to step out again in faith with new focus and commitment. On the Sunday after the Epiphany, we recall the Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan by John, and so are reminded of our own baptism. Baptism is the start of a lifelong journey of commitment and service, but it is done in the company of other Christians and with the risen Christ. That is why having the presence of the faith community at services of public baptism is so important. We journey together and in the fellowship of others. Baptism is not a private undertaking, but a public commitment. In exceptional circumstances when emergency baptism is required, the Book of Common Prayer has a service for Receiving into the Congregation for those privately baptised so that this corporate aspect of our faith is denied to no one.
This year, on the Sunday after the Epiphany (8th January), I will be presiding at a service in Killanne Union. My late father was rector of this parish when I was born, and so it is the place of my baptism. I have no memory of living there but I do look forward to joining the people in that parish, seeing for the first time the font in which I was baptised and maybe even finding the entry in the baptism register. Perhaps when you are attending church that Sunday, you might remember your parents and godparents and those who encouraged you in your faith.