Names and Baptism

Talk at St James, Colwall, for Advent 2 2015 and Baptism

Luke 3:1-6

After that, you may well be quietly asking me, what’s with the list of names we’ve never heard of? And the places you can barely pronounce, let alone locate on a map? Tiberius, Lysanias, who were they? Abilene, where on earth is that?

It’s a good question, lists of names in the bible can be, well, slightly dull. To some extent, it’s a device for narrowing down the date perhaps, but here, I think there’s something else going on. These were the big names of the day, well known to the original intended readers all those years ago.

So it’s saying, when all these big-wigs were ruling the roost and strutting their stuff, God spoke to... John. John? Who’s John for goodness sake?

Bear with me while I play with that idea a minute.

Towards the end of Barrack Obama’s presidency, when Vladimir Putin was doing this and that, and dreadful things were happening in the Middle East, but, hey England’s football team had qualified for the European Cup, God spoke to Janet? John? <insert own name> in a small parish church in Herefordshire.

It’s that sudden mismatch of the great and the good in the reading with … John? John who? that makes the list worth hearing. It’s a powerful reminder that God’s way of seeing the world is quite different to what ours can often be. To God, everyone is important, everyone matters. To God a life of quiet faith from any one of us is a source of joy to him.

So the world at large may have little idea who or indeed, where we are but what has happened here this morning is significant. Indie-May was baptised in Colwall, we have renewed our baptismal vows and have heard the word of God. Allelujah.