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The Parish of

St. Peter,

Bushey Heath

January 2018

 

From the vicar

The Baptism of Christ has presented a quandary for many over the years. Looking back with a Christian understanding of baptism commentators have asked why Jesus needed to be baptised at all. If baptism is a rite of initiation what was he being initiated into? If baptism is for the washing away of sins why did the sinless one need to be baptised at all? Christian baptism contains both these elements so the questions are justified.

For those in the early centuries of the Church who were known as adoptionists this was the moment when it happened. Jesus the man was baptised in the Jordan and became Jesus the Son of God. For them the words from the synoptic gospels, ‘Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased’ were the proof they needed that God had chosen this man and sent his Spirit upon him. The Church rejected this belief along with the opposite view held by the docetists who denied that Jesus was human at all, just the pre-existent Word in some sort of human disguise.

So why was Jesus baptised? In order to begin to answer this question it is necessary to consider what John the Baptist might have been doing and how baptism was likely to have been understood at that time. It is not necessary to be certain that the Baptist had been part of the Qumran community to realise that he had been influenced by their strict preparation for the coming of the Messiah. For this group baptism or ritual washing according to the practices of the Jews in general was not for the remission of sins, which was something only sacrifice could effect, but for the purposes of moral purification and, in the context of the expectation of that time, preparation for some great event. As John the Baptist saw himself preparing the way for the coming of the Messiah (Isaiah 40: 3) it is easy to argue that this was the purpose of the baptism which he administered. Jesus would much more easily have been able to submit to something which would associate him with the preparation for the coming Kingdom of God. 

The baptism of John and his contemporaries therefore differs from Christian baptism significantly in that it was not associated with conversion as only Jews were baptised and it was repeatable. Baptism was used at Qumran on entrance into the covenant of the community and so could indeed represent a new beginning. That would be particularly appropriate for Jesus at the outset of his public ministry.

Two final comments need to be made. The first is about variant textual readings which connect Luke 3: 22 quoted above more closely with Psalm 2: 7, ‘Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.’ This is usually understood as a psalm describing the enthronement of the Messiah/ King and would fit well with the declaration of Jesus’ identity made by the Baptist especially in St. John’s account. The second concerns the anticipated baptism by the Spirit (Luke 3:16) which is described as actually happening to Jesus. In the Qumran documents the messianic age is seen as being superseded by the age of the holy Spirit so it would be natural if both were seen to be fulfilled in Jesus.

Simplistic answers will not do when considering these texts and the Baptism of Christ. A great many expectations and ideas are woven together and they help us to understand and celebrate this wonderful event. The adoptionists took a too simple line and erred and over the years many faithful Christian souls have been perplexed by Jesus’ acceptance of baptism and become rather embarrassed about it. For the purposes of the celebration though, it is sufficient to allow the scriptures to speak for themselves. Without any embarrassment we may rejoice!

 

PRAYER FOCUS

Pray for strong leadership within the Church of England so that together we may present a faithful witness to the nation and the world.

 

From the diary

Wednesday 3rd January, 10.00am         MU Corporate Communion

Sunday 7th January                              The Epiphany of Our Lord

Wednesday 10th January, 10.00am       The Baptism of the Lord

 

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2018 

Monday 15th January, 10.30am                    Office at St. Peter’s, Bushey Heath

Tuesday 16th January, 10.30am                     Office at St. Andrew’s, Bushey Heath

Wednesday 17th January, 10.30am             Office at St. Matthew’s, Oxhey

Thursday 18th January, 10.30am                                    Eucharist at St. James’s, Bushey

Friday 19th January, 10.30am                         Office at Bushey and Oxhey Methodist Church

Sunday 21st January, 6.30pm                         Evening Prayer at St. Paul’s, Bushey

 

Wednesday 17th January, 8.00pm        Parochial Church Council meeting in the Parish Hall

 

Parishes of the Society in North-West London

The Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul

Thursday 25th January, 8.00pm

St. Mary the Virgin, Kenton

Followed by a meeting to discuss holding further joint services

 

Sunday 28th January                            The Presentation of Our Lord

Liturgical provision

Following a conversation at the last PCC meeting, the vicar would like to receive your opinion on the provision of another BCP, 9.30am Sung Communion at some point during the month, perhaps on the 4th Sunday. Your thoughts would be appreciated.

From the registers –

Funeral

15th December             Christine Murcia (aged 62 years)

Book Club

Would you be interested in joining a Book Club? Dayner Rowe (Family Service) is planning to set one up possibly meeting monthly in the Parish Hall. Expressions of interest please to Father Andrew.

The Red Trust, Bushey

Following the visit of local representative Alison Saunders to some of the harvest events last October, the PCC have agreed to host a box for donations of food towards the food bank which the charity runs, along with its other activities in support of the local community in Bushey. Please feel free to contribute to this if you wish. The box can be found at the back of church by the sound cupboard.

 

St Luke’s Church, Langley Way, Watford                                                              

BEREAVEMENT MINISTRY COURSE

Saturday 17 February 2018, 9.30am – 3.30pm 

This course will interest and equip anyone who as a disciple of Christ wants to know more about caring for people who have been bereaved, whether within the church or wider community.  

Tea and coffee will be served throughout the day, and you are asked to bring a packed lunch.  The course is provided free of charge.

Further information from Christine Massey: email:  christinemassey159@hotmail.com,  Tel: 01923 244188.

To book a place go to the following website: www.stalbans.anglican.org/ministry/find-a-course

CLOSING DATE: Friday 9 February 2018

 

Contact details:

Vicar: Fr. Andrew Burton SSC, a priest of the Society. (020 8950 1424). Usual day off Monday.

Churchwardens: Mr. Peter Mould (020 8428 8307); Mrs. Anne Swerling (020 8950 8923).

 

Text a prayer request to our Prayer Line on 07939 379018. Private prayer will be offered for 2 weeks.

www.stpeterbusheyheath.org.uk