#20: Living (as though we were) baptized.

***This is the twentieth of a series of posts based on a book I’m reading for a class called Connections in Religious and Ecological Education entitled Holy Ground: A Gathering of Voices on Caring for Creation. The chapter is “The Baptized Life,” by Larry Rasmussen.

Baptism is more than a symbol… it does something to us, changes us.  It enacts the Good News upon us, moving us back into right relationship with God and Creation through the decisive fact of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.  Resurrection is inherent in the symbol, being put under the water and drawn back out again, anew.  The Holy Spirit works mysteriously in that moment, doing all of the things of which we are reminded: cleansing, purifying, drawing us into the life of God by releasing us from the sin and death our fallen world holds, proclaiming the power of repentance through the coming of Jesus.  But the fullness of baptism is manifest only when the believer and the Church are wholly conformed to the image of Christ… Baptism is, at least in my tradition, a non-repeatable event based on God’s faithfulness rather than our own, our baptismal identity being simultaneously an ongoing process, leading and growing us toward more total holiness.  It’s a new status, and a recognition of the status we’ve always had in God’s eyes.

And that’s very theological, and fancy.  In fact, it’s a bit of excerpt from a paper I wrote this winter on my theology of the sacraments.  I got an A, which was nice of course, but rereading it and Rasmussen’s chapter, I realized I would like to rewrite it.  Because it doesn’t say what I really think, at least the core of what I think, baptism is about. It’s water, after all, at its heart.  When I was baptized, I felt different.  I was different.  It’s the only moment in my Christian experience that I might actually talk about as a conversion, even though my behavior didn’t really change… I simply knew in a visceral way, when that water poured over my head onto my clothes, that God and I would be okay, together.  This is a big deal, for me.  That water was cleansing, but it also felt connecting.  I now was connected to every other person who’d ever been baptized before, every one.  We are linked in water.  I was nineteen then, and not very aware of the world.  Now, I still know that I am connected to my sisters and brothers in Christ through that water, but I know too that I am joined just as tightly to my entire human family in it.  The waters of life, living water, is redundant.  Water gives life and is life.  We’re made of water, our world is made of water, we can survive without it only for a miniscule amount of time.  There’s only so much of it to go around, and it’s essential.  It’s our essence.  My baptism means that I’m tied to other people and to the billions of organisms on this planet through the waters that poured down over my forehead a decade ago, that water pouring into the air and into rivers, leading across oceans and under the soils of the world into the drinking pots and thirsty cells of God’s creatures, into the clouds and into the water tables of God’s creation.  I breathe vapor and that air mixes with the air others inhale.  The water I depend on gives life to all of us.  It is life.  I wonder if that’s why the prophet Amos chose to say that justice rolls down like waters… that the renewal of the earth in Revelation comes as a stream flowing out of Eden,  that out of the deep waters God created the universe, that out of the waters of the Jordan Jesus was baptized into his calling.  It is all so essential. Nothing has more necessity or more is-ness than water.  It is the single most connecting element of our world, and of our faith.

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