Wednesday, February 9, 2011

ReMarks Article- By Water and the Sprit: On Baptism

This week is a special week for our family. Sloan is going to be baptized on Sunday morning at the 11:15 service (join us!), and we are so excited for this day. Family and godparents will be joining us for the occasion, and it's going to mean a week of cleaning and schedule-organizing for us. Among the honored guests will be my dear friend, Rev. Kara Root, who was present with us when Sloan was born. In our baptismal liturgy, we recount how Christ was "nurtured in the water of a womb" and this water is the central symbol for our baptism. It makes my soul sing to know that the person who was there with us as my daughter's waters were broken will also administer to her the water of grace.

In the last several weeks, we have had a number of people join Saint Mark; they have come from a variety of traditions. In each case, we ask our new members if they have been baptized. It is part of what we do to show our membership in this church, because it is baptism that brings us into union with Christ, with each other, and with the Church in every time and place.*

Baptism is no small thing.

And yet, it is. God's gift of grace (that is, a gift which we do not deserve) comes to us through the simplest of elements: water, bread, wine. Last Sunday, we celebrated at Christ's table, and this week we will watch as water is placed on an infant's head (and her mother cries a little). These are simple acts, which we perform daily. We eat, we cleanse, and often, we share in these acts communally.

The same is true for our baptism. This gift of water is the means by which God's grace comes to us. In Scripture, God continues to use water as a way to demonstrate faithfulness to the lost and wandering through water in creation and the covenant after the flood, parting the Red Sea, and safe passage through the river Jordan. No matter our failings, God is faithful, and there is nothing we can do to destroy God's love for us.

But it is not just with water that we are baptized, but also with the Holy Spirit. God bestows upon those who have been baptized the presence of the Holy Spirit, marks them with an identifying seal as God's own, and plants in them their inheritance as sons and daughters of God.

This Sunday, as my daughter is marked as a Child of God, I will celebrate with the water of my own tears of joy. For on this day, she will join us in this sacred community. I am so honored for her to be a part of this congregation of believers, and I thank you for welcoming her into it so lovingly.

*For more about the United Methodist understanding of baptism, see: "By Water and the Spirit."


Kara said...

I'm crying. I absolutely cannot wait to bless that little head. What a gift life is.

Revmom54 said...

will be thinking of your family and friends and sharing this day in the Spirit of prayer - and of the Church living out its baptismal promises to Sloan and your family, scattered though we may be.

Brunos Roswell GA said...

Thanks for your thoughts on Baptism. I have been attending a methodist church for some time now, having been raised non-denom. It wasn't until I taught a confirmation class this fall that I fully understood the sacrament of baptism. As always - your thoughts are insightful and right on.