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"The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace." Numbers 6. 24-6

We had a baptism in church last Sunday. Hope and joy combine in this simple yet profound celebration, which plumbs the depths of what it means to be human beings created in the image of God and reaches for the heights of what we aspire on behalf of those we love. The zenith comes in the blessing we pray over the one being baptised. Known as the Aaronic blessing, it was the prayer God commanded his original high-priest, Aaron, to say over his chosen people, Israel. It is a prayer for protection, grace, peace and the attention of God. All of this in a day when people believed in a multitude of deities whose presence had to be attracted through elaborate rituals and where nations were in perpetual conflict.

Some things haven't changed, others have. God fulfilled the Old Covenant, represented by Aaron and the temple system of sacrificing animals for human sins, by sending Jesus as the ultimate high-priest who offers the perfect sacrifice of his own unblemished life for the sins of the whole world. In calling us to follow him to glory, Jesus does not spare our physical suffering but he does promise to accompany us and he does promise to all who trust him that he will see us through to the end, which is our enjoyment of eternal life in his company and in the company of all the saints in the New Creation.

This New Covenant - a covenant of grace rather than of sacrifice - is what we celebrate in baptism and for which we consecrate those being baptised through the Aaronic blessing. Whatever you may be facing today, may you know the Lord's blessing and protection, his presence and pleasure, his grace and peace. Your walk may not be easy - indeed we are to expect challenges, opposition, even persecution - yet the Lord will reward your faith if you trust him to get you through. That faith and trust is the making of us, through which we are formed as the people God created us to be, conformed into the image of Christ our Saviour, and transformed as citizens of the eternal Kingdom.



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