The Reverend Charles Royden
at Priory Methodist Church, 12th January 2003
At Baptism we say some very powerful words about belonging to Christ and his church, we talk about God being present in our lives through the Holy Spirit. The sacramental water of Baptism tells us who and what we are as Christians.
This idea is well illustrated in Disney's 'The Lion King.' For those of you who may have seen the movie, you may remember that Simba the lion cub is separated from all that reminds him of his identity. He is away from home, away from his family, and away from his responsibilities in the world. In fact, he forsakes his true identity as a lion, eats bugs and hangs around with Timon and Pumba. He has lost his identity as king of the lions. In his absence, the kingdom is over run by forces of evil, and it becomes a very dark and wounded place.
The baboon "priest" Rafiki finds Simba in the jungle and calls him back to his identity. In John the Baptist fashion Rafiki leads Simba to a great lake. As Simba stares into the pool of water, it is not only his face that is reflected. It is also the face of his father. The father and son are inextricably linked. As he recognizes his father within himself, the heavens open and the father speaks to him from heaven. In that moment, Simba is transformed. He understands his true identity as the Lion King and sees the responsibility his identity carries. He is empowered for the mission that lies before him and is able to combat the evil forces of the world that have taken over. In the end, Simba is victorious and brings light and healing back to his kingdom.
In our story from the Bible today, we see Jesus having a profound experience with water, in which he too publicly recognises his kingly responsibility and is obedient to his Father. The water of baptism was important for Jesus in defining the person he was to be, so for us too the water of baptism should remind us of our calling and responsibilities towards our heavenly Father.