Preparing a Harvest Festival service coupled with baptisms has led to thoughts around fresh starts. The tendency is to think of harvest as the end of the year for the farming community, but in reality the cycle continues. Preparations are already in hand for the next year’s crops and so on … Life in general can often feel the same. ‘What goes around come around.’ is a common saying and even an opportunity for a fresh start like the New Year, with half-hearted resolutions, carries little hope of significant changes coming about. And life is full of new beginnings – starting school, change in job, marriage, new home, retirement etc. – but human nature remains stubbornly similar before and after.
Another fresh start can come when we are forgiven for something we have done. The future can be different, unencumbered by guilt. This is where a faith in Jesus Christ finds its significance. If a Christian life was just about following his example or teaching, then human nature will likely make it a mockery. But at the heart of what Jesus is about is God’s love and forgiveness and there lies the opportunity for real change and a meaningful fresh start.
Baptism is the mark of grasping this God-given opportunity. The water indicates a washing away of the past and, while human nature might easily draw us back into the cycle of ‘what goes around comes around’, Baptism is also about openness to the Holy Spirit, the power of God within to overcome our natural inclinations.