Greetings fellow travellers!
Today we witness and share in Dalia’s baptism. For all the advances of our age, I think we are unfortunate to be living in a time when much of the symbolic meaning in life has been reduced or eliminated. Our culture values what we can see and measure and quantify and has no time for anything that does not fit into this category. What is wanted by the quick fixers, fast foodies, maximum profit for minimum outlayers is not a seemingly pointless splash of water and lit candle. Baptism would seem to have nothing to offer any sensible person. And yet… at the same time, these symbolic acts are exactly what is needed, what is longed for and looked for by many people outside the church, where there is a great hunger for belonging. But how do you measure belonging? How do you quantify commitment? How do you measure a sacrament?
This outward sign with water and fire, that begins with a desire to make concrete and physically real what is already an interior and spiritual lived truth, speaks to the depths of our being. It unites intention and action.
It brings congruence and so soothes something deep within.
There is a richness to this sacrament that is easy to dismiss as so much theology and essentially irrelevant to the actual living out the life of the baptised. Baptism is not a goal post or even the starting point of the Christian life. It is a marker along the way as we journey together. Baptism is a reminder to all of us that we belong to one another and to God. It is a way to remember that our DNA is divine; we have been claimed by God; none of us is alone and each one of us, each one, is precious and treasured irrespective of our gender, race, age, ability, income etc. etc.
Baptism acts out for us a reality that we need to see again and again because it is so hard to grasp. We are children of God. We are loved. We belong. And because of that we have a difference to make in a world that is crying out for this kind of good news. Not the good news that God asks you to behave with proper morals. Not the good news that if you don’t believe you will forfeit your soul for eternity. The good news that says “you are already mine, you are already loved, you already belong in this family”. And when we can live out of this truth, then through the work of the Holy Spirit our whole lives become a witness to and a declaration of the good news of Jesus Christ.