Friday, January 13, 2006


Juan's identified baptism as something which is central to being church. I think that baptism challenges most modern Christians. We too often think of it as a past event, not as something which brings forward or shapes our future.

I had an interesting conversation with my district chair today regarding this exact question. Is baptism something which is a one-time-only event, or is it the beginning of a journey which needs to be recalled so that we can remember which way we are going? Perhaps the analogy is a bit strained, but I think it is the latter.

This is why Lathrop emphasizes, along with classical Christian theologians, the necessity of re-presenting the "things of baptism" in the sermon/homily/message. Baptism is not just a public affirmation of our faith, and/or a cleansing from sin: it is a powerful moment of God-given grace; a joining to the body of Christ; a transformation into a cruciform life-pattern; the initiation of our ministry.

None of these, even the washing or affirmation, are momentary in their significance. These are lifelong events, which may begin or have a watershed moment (if you'll excuse the pun) at the actual time of baptism. Perhaps even a lifetime is too short for the full import of baptism to be unfolded. As I explore in deeper ways (as I grow older) the life of God as it is lived in our world, I can only imagine what is in store for the future. But I know that it begins--not ends--with baptism.

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