Sunday, January 8, 2012

Baptism and All That Goes With It

The Baptism of Christ by Giotto di Bondone

Today, we marked the baptism of Christ.  The Holy Spirit descends like a dove from heaven as Christ is emerging from the water, and he hears the voice saying, "This is my Son with whom I am well pleased."

Most of us don't get to hear that voice.  Most of us, if we are Episcopalians, were baptized when we were infants and the only thing we might have heard was our own screaming as the priest dribbled water on our heads in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  But implicit in that moment of our own baptism is the same absolute and total love of God for who we are, who we were and who we will be.  No booming voice, and no dove, but the same sentiment is expressed for each of us. It was noted by the rector of St. John's this morning in his sermon that nothing separates us from the love of Christ.  Nothing.

After this period of experiencing death upon death in the lives of my friends, I am keenly aware of this connection between baptism in this life and the resurrection that comes at the end of life in this realm.  One of the things I appreciated in the Roman Catholic funeral service I attended was the explanation that the white pall laid over the cremated ashes of my friend's mother was a symbolic connection to her baptismal gown she no doubt wore when she was a baby. It was a visual reminder that the resurrection is like the baptism into the next adventure and the continuation of our life in Christ.  We go on... only without a body.

So what are we doing with this life while we are in the body and existing between the two poles of  baptism and resurrection?  When we are baptized, our body becomes connected with many others.  We are brought into a larger community with its different members, each of us making a contribution to this body of humanity.  Part of what we must do is to be aware of those other moving and growing parts of the body.  That's more than just within the church community.  It's looking at what's happening in our cities and townships and responding to people who may be hurting or in need, as well as celebrating triumphs and joys.  The body isn't just the body of our churches.  It's everyone we are in contact with in the world.  It's about understanding how what we throw in the garbage can has a potential effect on our planet.  It's about how and where we spend our money effects our neighbors both inside and outside the city limits.  And it's about living.  Living fully, and as people who are free and very worthy of love.  When we live that way, we are more able to love that way.  And when we love that way, we are more reflective of the light of the Divine Love.

Baptism not only marks us as Christ's own forever; baptism requires us to live and love as Christ's own.  Forever.  Nothing can separate us from this love, so let's ride the wave and share our selves with those around us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We had a baptism at Christ Church yesterday. One little girl who really put on a show. After the holy water was dripped on her head she really wanted it wiped off as it was drippy and then she wondered what was being put on her forehead that was oily. Afterwards, her Mom or Godmom walked her around as she wasn't going to stay still. She came up to me and I smiled and touched her hands. It was really something. So she really did ride the wave. She did share her little young self with us all. A good show.