Sermon for 13th January 2019 by Rev Ellie Goldsmith

January 13th 2019 Baptism of Christ and


Isaiah 43.1-7    Psalm 29      Acts 8.14-17  Gospel: Luke 3.15-17,21,22

Common and key words connecting all the Readings

St Ladoca lives on! 

Called by God, St Ladoca probably came from Ireland with St Piran in the 5th or 6th C; she settled in Fentonladock and ministered to the monastic community reaching out to the hamlets around here.

What a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then in the Christian Church and in Ladock Church!

There may have been a Church here ever since then; this building may have been erected on an ancient site and worship was certainly taking place here in the 12C.  It’s likely that there was some building here in Norman times, and Rectors are recorded from 1268 – just a mere 750 years ago!

I’ve been here about 5 years!  Joachim 5 months!

Perhaps Eileen Cocking is our longest member currently – less than 90 years.

It’s easy for us today to focus on Ladock, and jump from St Ladoca’s beginnings to today, though we probably wouldn’t miss out the famous Victorian Canon Wise and his generosity, without which we might not be here today.

If the Church could talk, it might remind us of some cataclysmic changes it has seen in the worldwide Christian Church:

The effects of Constantine’s conversion in the 4th C were probably still rippling into Ireland by the time Piran & Ladoca came; the Christian Church was finding its feet, and the Koran was nearing its beginning.

In the 11thC the Church split between the East and the West, and this century also saw the beginnings of the Crusades.

The 14th and 15th Centuries had their highs and lows – Bibles were translated into English and printed, and in the following Century, Martin Luther sparked the Reformation of the Roman Catholic Church, and as we know, Henry the VIII protested and declared himself Head of the Church in England.

The rise of the sciences – natural and social – over the next centuries brought some challenges to the Church, and John and Charles Wesley made their significant contributions to renewing faith, inspired by hearts ‘strangely warmed’. The 19th and 20th C were periods of missionary endeavour – the Church Missionary Society (+Philip’s previous post as Executive Leader)) came into being in 1799.

We could go on!!

And we are glad the Church does go on – worldwide and here in Ladock!

Today is a day to praise God for the past, and, of course, it makes us look to the future.

We are glad to say today, this Building is in good repair – because in recent years it has had constant attention and investment.

Then we have to ask, ‘Are the people in good repair?’ for we all come with damage needing to be repaired, challenges to be faced, and lives to be re-directed.

And it is on people such as us – old and new Ladocians, that responsibility for the future lies.

I love a phrase – challenging as it is - that comes in the Ordination Service, and we heard again at +Philip’s Welcome Service yesterday:  we are asked to declare our faith as revealed in Holy Scriptures and in the creeds, and then comes the phrase: we are called to ‘proclaim [this faith] afresh in each generation’.  No matter how wonderful our history has been, there’s always a new generation that needs to hear the story of God’s love:  we are called to ‘proclaim [this] afresh in each generation’.

And our Readings today, and their key and common words, can help us here.

I’m sure you noticed the repetition of the words:  water, voice, and Holy Spirit

Isaiah 43 was one of the Choir pieces yesterday!  And it is a beautiful reminder that when we feel up to our necks in water, whatever is going on around us, we need not fear, for God is with us to protect us and gather us:  ‘I have called you by name.  You are mine!’

And God does this supremely at Baptism:  baptism literally means ‘drenching’ or ‘soaking’ – much more than a sprinkle!  Being baptised in a river as Jesus was is such a vivid picture of being saved from mighty waters that might overwhelm us, of being protected and gathered into God’s kingdom –  our sins drown: we rise to a new life.

And as we do, we hear the majestic voice of the Lord God himself – the voice more powerful than the mighty waters that threaten us; yet it is a reassuring voice; he has brought us through, and why?  ‘because you are precious and honoured’ and because God loves you, as he loved his dear Son our Lord Jesus Christ.

I wonder when you were last aware of God’s love for you?

He loved Jesus before he had started proclaiming the Good News to his generation; he loved you before you did anything for Ladock Church.  He just loves you!  And this is why we find ourselves loving him … and wanting to proclaim the story of God’s love afresh in each generation, here in Ladock.

And this brings us to the other key words – the Holy Spirit

The dove that settled on Jesus at his baptism was a sign that God’s Spirit was with him.  The same theme is picked up in the rather puzzling incident in Acts 8, when we read that some early believers seem to have gone through the waters of baptism but probably didn’t hear a voice and they didn’t get a dove! 

But it’s never too late!

It’s possible you feel like these people – missing out, something a bit lacking, feeling a bit dry – needing the water of baptism to refresh you, to hear God’s voice again, to be reassured of his love, to receive more of God’s Spirit and life in you, to be re-directed in his service.

If so, Joachim is ready to pray for you; he’ll be waiting in the side chapel after you have been to receive Holy Communion or a prayer of blessing.

You may want prayer for yourself, or you may wish to ask for prayer for Ladock Church; for as the Book of Acts makes clear, it is the Holy Spirit who guides the Church afresh in each generation.

At this new year in Ladock’s life, it is a very good time to listen once again to the voice that thunders over the waters, to the Holy Spirit who helps each baptised person to take their place within the life of his Church to proclaim afresh the story of God’s love, and to be sure of that love for yourself.

+Philip’s service yesterday ended with a Commission for the whole Church, and this was in the form of a series of questions he put to us:

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, will you dare to walk into God’s future trusting Him o be your guide?

Will you dare to embrace each other and grow together in love?

Will you dare to share your riches in common and minister to each other in need?

Will you dare to pray for each other until your hearts beat with the longings of God?

Will you dare to carry the light of Christ into the world’s dark places?


I hope on St Ladoca day you can say, ‘We will’ to all of these.


+Philip ended with this prayer:


‘May the Lord strengthen you his children with the gift of faith, that his Church may be revived with the breath of love, and the face of the earth be renewed in hope, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.’




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