Last weekend, I had the honour of baptising one of my grand children, in a home ceremony.
I said a few words before the baptism, and this is a rough version of them.
‘Today, we do something very beautiful. We baptise Ellie into something borderless and eternal – the kingdom of God’s love.
But we also do something revolutionary. We may be on the news tonight. We may be in gaol, because the political elite won’t like this.
On one side, we have Jeremy Corbyn allowing the nurture and practice of anti-semitism within significant groups in the Labour Party. It is the quiet and persistent allowance of hate towards an ethnic group, to keep the masses happy…so shame on him.
On the other side, we have Trump, Farage and Johnson – rich men all, who use hate to lift them to power. Whether it’s colour, ethnicity or religion – lie, evasion and mockery are used to stir hate…so shame on them.
The political elite build carefully on hate, knowing its uses well – ‘separate and rule’. That is their vision – but this is not God’s vision; nor the vision of this home in which we gather.
This is nothing new of course. Jesus grew up in Nazareth – a Jewish settler town, which claimed to be ‘more Jewish than Jerusalam’.
So they didn’t like the Phoenicians who began to appear. ‘Hatred will keep us pure!’ Only Jesus healed a Syro-Phoenician woman, he didn’t buy into the hate. His kingdom was borderless – including even Romans…and worse still, Samaritans.
No wonder Nazareth turned on Jesus with violence. He was upsetting their purity.
But Jesus wasn’t only blind to colour, ethnicity and religion. He was also gender-blind.
It is a myth Jesus had twelve male disciples. It is clear from the gospels that there was a much bigger following than this, and many of them were women, like Joanna, Susanna and Mary Magdalene.
And as if to prove the point, when the shit hit the fan, there at the foot of the cross are only four people – one man, three women. At his burial and resurrection, there were no men; only women.
And of course, the kingdom of God is age-blind. When his followers tried to stop children coming to him, he asked them what they were doing? For the kingdom of God is such as these.
So the political elite and their acolytes will not like what takes place today, because we baptise Ellie not into their kingdom of discreet hate and separation, but into God’s borderless and eternal kingdom of love.
Hate destroys us, love lifts us. Hate must crack and wither, there is no other way for it to go; but love will grow, and love is strong. So Ellie, a three-year -old girl, is probably the strongest person in the world today; and the equal of any.
We do something beautiful – we baptise her into something borderless and eternal, God’s kingdom of love.
But we also do something revolutionary, opposed by the political elite. We may be on the news tonight, we may be in gaol.
Yet Ellie could not be safer.’