While in Arizona, an uncle was asking his siblings if they recall him being baptized. It was decided that he probably had not been baptized and his face seemed concerned. He is older with health concerns and married to a Catholic women.
As Christians, Baptism is significant in our faith journey.
I often note our appropriate response to Baptism through commitment to our shared baptismal, or Christian, vocation, which is to:
- Proclaim Christ in word and deed;
- Seek justice;
- Act with compassion and mercy; and
- Love and serve all people.
But, it is often at the expense of discussing the purpose of and the Triune God’s activity in our baptisms.
Baptism, at its most basic, is an initiation rite. It welcomes the baptized as a member within the Church and into that Christian vocation. If an infant or child, the parents, sponsors, and congregation commit to teaching said child those commitments. Then the grown child can accept the Christian vocation for themselves in an affirmation of baptism, which we often refer to as confirmation.
But, baptism is more. Baptism washes us free from our sin drowning the old Adam, or self. We are washed in the water but also the WORD or promise of God’s grace and mercy which rescues us from the eternal punishment of sin, although not the earthly consequences of our actions and words.
But, wait… Baptism is more. Baptism is a ceremony and celebration of adoption. In Jesus’ baptism, we hear that the heavens opened, the Holy Spirit descended upon him, and the voice of the Father boomed forth to Jesus saying “You are my Beloved Son with you I am well pleased!”. In baptism, we hear the same word of adoption “you are my Beloved Child with you I am well pleased”.
And although the Church teaches one baptism for the forgiveness of sin…
we should affirm our baptisms daily!
And it is simple… as simple as bathing.
I take my showers in the evening.
During the day, I have not only collected sweat, dirt, and germs but also burdened by my human condition of sin, failure, short-comings, as well as un-Christ-like actions, words, and thoughts. As the water washes the sweat, dirt, and germs down the drain, envision that same water infused with God’s grace and mercy washing the sin, failures, short-comings, and un-Christlike actions, words, and thoughts along with its associated guilt down the drain as well.
Then, cleansed once again, I rest.
I rest, in order to be awakened again in the morning refreshed and resurrected with Christ in hope, peace, and love to unfortunately find the old Adam, or self, knows how to swim AND our world remains to be God’s kingdom not yet fulfilled…
And this process begins again, and again, and again, without end until the moment of our death as Martin Luther wrote.
BUT, may we affirm our baptism and re-commit to its vocation daily,
strengthened not only in the waters of grace and mercy showered upon us
but also in God’s word of promise and adoption: “You are my Beloved Child”.