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Homily for the Baptism of Eliza at Great Paxton Church December 30th 2012.

Homily for Eliza Bonham

December 30th 2012.


 One of the key features of a nativity scene are the animals that join the human figures amongst the hay. We have a very large Ox in the Great Paxton crib which  takes up a lot of space. We have a donkey and a lamb. Other scenes often find a cat or dog or some other animal has crept in.

When I was in my previous very rural parish I often was allowed to be present when lambs were born on a local farm. I remember how amazing it is that very quickly they are able to stand up and run around. Sometimes they need a bit of encouragement and nudging from their mother and they may be a bit shaky on their legs to start with. This swift progress to becoming independent at least in some respects is true of other animals too.

By comparison human beings who can take a year or 18 months before they start walking about.

I’m loving the new toddler group at Little Paxton Church on Wednesday mornings and being reminded how tiny and helpless new born babies are compared to two years down the road when the toddler is walking around and in to everything.

The difference apparently between a human baby and an animal is to do with the size of our heads.  Our brains are so big that our heads have to be big to accommodate them. The only way we can literally come into this world is by our bodies being small enough,  so it takes us a long time to develop the muscles needed to allow us to stand up and walk.

Which means that out of the whole animal kingdom, human babies are the weakest, and most vulnerable  of all creation. They are totally dependent in the first months of life on others for their well being and survival.

That emphasises just how amazing the birth of Jesus Christ is.

The God who created the entire universe, the God who flung stars into space and created the planets and infinite galaxies allowed himself to become the  weakest  and most vulnerable part of his own creation.

It is as if God chose to turn things upside down.  He came into the world “ little weak and helpless”  as the carol “Once in Royal David’s City”  puts it. He asked to be cared for, to be looked after. And we imagine the tender love of Mary and Joseph doing just that.

Of course Jesus grew up to be an adult  and had a loving family and dear friends around him, but  died on the cross, killed by other people who weren’t able to accept the God given responsibility to deal kindly and fairly with one another.

But the amazing thing about the cross of course is that as he was dying he asked for forgiveness for those who killed him. We know whenever we fail or fall short, God is always more ready to forgive us than we are to ask for forgiveness.

What a privilege it is today to be with Eliza’s family  and friends as they bring her  to this ancient church for holy baptism.

We are only here today because generations of people have cared for the building and believed it to be a place where God can especially be worshipped and experienced. A place where people have  come together to share their faith and comfort each other in difficult times and  celebrate in good times.

Countless numbers of infants and adults have been baptised in the ancient font, too many to be all known by name though we have had registers since 1580s with each person named and remembered.

Like Jesus, like Eliza, like each one of us, every child ever born has needed  to be completely looked after from the moment they are born until they develop their independence.

Parenting can be very exhausting but infinitely rewarding. But in looking after an infant, we are fully accepting that invitation from God to live out our vocation to nurture and care.

As parents of grown up children might agree, the caring and worrying about them doesn’t stop when they can walk and talk and become independent. It can be far more worrying when they have bank accounts, drive cars and have boy or girl friends.

Jules and David, we rejoice in you becoming parents.  We rejoice that you care for Eliza so beautifully and accept with open arms God’s invitation to bring love, joy and new life into our world.

As we enter a new year may we all accept that daily challenge of caring which God gives us with each new sunrise.

It may not be looking after children but there are so many ways to look after our friends and neighbours and our planet earth. We might not always get it right but we know that God is always ready to forgive us when we fall short and help us start again.

If we ever need a picture to remind us of how to take responsibility for each other and the world.  Remember how vulnerable a tiny infant is. How our instinct is to treat him or her with the greatest gentleness and respect.  How wonderful if we always had that attitude towards all those we meet and the earth that gives us life.

My prayer for Eliza is that as she grows up surrounded by enduring love from her parents, family and friends she will before long discover God’s love for herself and the joy that comes from loving those around  her and the earth which she inhabits.

Children of Eliza’s generation may well live into the next millennium. What responsibility they carry to care for planet earth and for one another.

May Eliza find strength in the Christian faith into which she is about to be baptised and may God’s blessing dwell richly with her and all those who love her so much.

May the new year bring us all Gods peace and contentment as we strive to do his will and seek his guidance day by day. Amen.

With acknowledgement to a “ You-tube” video made by Rev Andrew Milton of All Saints Church, Huntingdon for the Christmas season. He gave me the idea for the opening thoughts of this homily.

January 6, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Very well done, a lovely baptism homily.

    Comment by Ian Blakeley | January 9, 2013 | Reply

    • Thanks for your kind words; much appreciated.

      Comment by paxtonvic | January 10, 2013 | Reply

  2. Thank you for sharing this. My daughter is about to be baptized so reading this helped me in my determination to have the ceremony performed and motivation to keep her strong as she grows. I am sure Eliza will find gods love 🙂

    Comment by Jill Fox | January 20, 2013 | Reply

    • Thanks Jill for your kind comment.
      I do hope youve have had or will have a lovely service for your dear daughter.
      God Bless you all

      Comment by paxtonvic | January 20, 2013 | Reply

      • Hi again
        I think our posts just crossed! Looks like your daughter’s baptism is just coming up so Im glad the post was helpful. It helped me a lot that I know the family very well and indeed married the parents a couple of years ago. One of the privilegesdof this lovely vocation!
        Thanks again for your comment

        Comment by paxtonvic | January 20, 2013

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