Friday, January 4, 2008

The Grace of Baptism

I like baptism
I like the gathering of the community
I like the approach, the welcoming of the candidates
I like the blessing of the water
I like the vows taken by and for the candidates
I like the ritual of washing
I like the symbolism of immersion
I like the unity of the body of Christ in the church.

But baptism is a peculiar thing
We do it once
We do it for others
And not for ourselves

Baptism is the Rubicon of Christianity
Once done, we have crossed over
We belong
We are sealed as belonging to Christ

Baptism is a sacrament to many Christians

An outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.

The sign is the wetting, the bathing, the annointing, ...and the grace?

The grace is the forgiveness of sins available to the repentant Christian through Jesus Christ.

And perhaps this is the forgotten beauty of baptism: not its celebration of becoming a member of the body, not the spiritual vows made to actively seek to turn from evil, -these are outward signs- but the initial recognition that we are all in need of perfection, that we all have stumbled, that we all need forgiveness, and that in particular the candidate is recognizing his or her errors, and is formally repenting and seeking forgiveness.

And perhaps this is what Jesus brought to baptism that it did not have before: the authority to say:

"Rise and walk, for your sins are forgiven you."

Rise and walk, and if you stumble, pick yourself up, and walk again.

May you, dear reader, also Rise and Walk


No comments: