A MINISTER’S MUSINGS……………….ON BAPTISM (March 12/18)
It won’t be long now until the arrival of a hot tub at Central. No, we won’t be hosting a tailgate party, with people sitting in a hot tub watching the Flames making a run for the playoffs. And we aren’t opening a spa with massages and hot rock yoga. So, what’s this all about?
It’s all about Baptism! On Sunday, April 1st, at the Celebrate Life Recovery gathering, I will be honoured to stand in a pool of warm (I hope!) water to baptize a group of adults who have indicated their desire to become a part of the Christian church through baptism. Typically, in the United Church, the waters of baptism are sprinkled on the forehead of both infants and adults. Full immersion is a rare occurrence in our faith tradition.
But, in fact, full immersion was the norm for baptism in the early church, emulating the baptism of Jesus who went down to the Jordan River to ask John to baptize him. During the forty days preceding Easter, people who wanted to become Christian spent those forty days in an intense study of what it meant to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Then, on Easter Sunday, they presented themselves to the local community for baptism—and it was full immersion. The symbolism is strong. By entering the waters of baptism and being baptized in the name of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, the person is seen to be “drowning” to an old way of life and emerging from the waters of baptism to step into their new way of life lived as a Christian.
Many of the people whom I will be baptizing on Easter Sunday have led precarious lives. They have been shattered by their addictions and they have lost control of their lives. At the moment of their baptism, they are surrendering to the God of their understanding, drowning to their old way of life, and emerging to begin life in a new way. It’s a powerful statement for them.
But baptism is not just for those who are troubled. It is for all of us. A reminder that we, too, need to turn away from the seductions of this world and begin a new way of life that embraces love, hope, serenity, compassion and healing for the world.
Please join us for this most sacred of rituals. And be “resurrected” to a new way of life.