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#HolySpirit #BaptizedByLove #ThisIsMyBeloved #YouAreLoved #YouAreIncluded #Becoming #Belonging #Beloved #JohnAndJesus #JordanRiver #DownToTheRiverToPray #BaptizedByFire #Missituk #MysticLake
This past Sunday morning, Rev. Tom and I had the honor of baptizing a few beautiful children-of-God in the Upper Mystic Lake. It was a glorious opportunity to celebrate coming out of the pandemic and being connected through shared rituals like a potluck picnic and a good old-fashioned rendition of “Down to the River to Pray!”
But that got me thinking about “being baptized”. Whether we are referring to a “baptism-by-fire,” or naming something for the first time, or an initiation rite – the word suggests something about becoming-a-part-of.
On Sunday, we were practicing the religious rite wherein those who were baptized claimed their place as beloved Children of God who would follow Jesus and who wanted to do so with our little band of Jesus followers. We symbolized that “becoming-a-part-of” through the application of water, in this case through the water of the Missituk.
Ironically – Christians have been arguing about the application of that water ever since John baptized Jesus in the Jordan. Is it though sprinkling or pouring or partial immersion? or does one need a total, over the head, deep down in the river dunking in order to become-a-part-of the faith community?
Well, it really doesn’t matter – cos despite being grounded in the Jewish purity ritual of immersion – all of these Christian baptism practices are just human beings making stuff up.
You see, it is hard for us to believe that God loves us as much as God does, and its even harder for us to be as extravagantly welcoming and inclusive as God is – so we make this stuff up.
We make up rituals to help us believe that God loves us. And then we try to differentiate our ritual from other rituals so that we can be on the inside of God’s love and we can keep others on the outside of God’s love. Because, well… Human Beings…
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love rituals, and sacraments, and sacred moments when we celebrate the presence of God. But I also know that we are just symbolizing what is already true – that God is love and that we are all God’s beloved.
This is what really matters: God, created all of it – the rivers and the rituals; the potlucks and the people; the community and the commitments – and She just uses it all to show us how much we are loved and that we are already a part of God’s family.
When Jesus came up out of the water of baptism, a voice came down from heaven and said, “This is my child, my beloved, in whom I am well pleased.”
You too – my dear one – are God’s beloved, in whom God is very, well pleased.
And there is no need of fire, water, or a ritual for that to be so.
Join us this Sunday at 10:30 for virtual worship because everybody needs a little sanctuary.