Monday, January 19, 2004

Living into Your Baptism

At a conference about 3 years ago, I heard Robert Webber say that he was still trying to live into his baptism. At the time I didn't quite get it what he meant. Now, however, while teaching through our churches pre-baptismal class (partically making it up as we go) Webber's statement is becoming much clearer. Unlike the Evangelical tradition I come from which puts all stock in the conversion experience, making baptism optional, I now see baptism as the culmination of conversion, as the only reference point really worth talking about. (our church already counts baptisms instead of "decisions.")

Many of the concepts covered by our "conversion" seem to be related to baptism in the new testamt. In the NT it seems baptism is the definitive symbol of crossing over from death to life, from sin to forgiveness. Baptism is the definitive symbol/statement of our union with Christ, our participation in his life through our own death. Baptism symbolizes our spiritual death and resurrection, our identification with Jesus, through our bodies, physically, materially, particularly.

Baptism is a shifting of alligiences, a changing of identities. Only through death can we become something else, and God in his wisdom did not leave it up to our inner subjectivites, our private psychological experience as this definite moment, but physically enacts this death and resurrection on our bodies, or our little pieces of the universe, the only thing that I can really call my own, my own body. Conversion is great, a decision to repent is great, but let us live into our baptism. Let us be marked into a new life. It marks our bodies and our psyches, a reference point we can look back at, a landmark to lead us. Let us put off the old self and put on the new. Let us live into our baptism.

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