Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Baptism of the Lord

Today’s Scriptures: Lectionary selections from the Revised Common Lectionary Year C

Isaiah 43:1-7

Psalm 29

Acts 8:14-17

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

Today’s Reflection:

Dunk ‘em! Dab ‘em! The denominational debate about baptism has always fascinated me because so much passion gets spent on the symbolic act when much less energy is spent on the spiritual salvation of people. The symbolic is much easier since it is visible for all (exactly as intended). As we remember the baptism of the Lord, we can gain some perspective on what exactly baptism means to us. As it is still Epiphany season, the revelation of Jesus as the Christ comes to us in every lesson and Bible reading throughout the year, and today his baptism reveals much about our connection to him. Today’s focus on the baptism of the Lord offers us insight into the transformation of our own baptism and all that comes with it. Out baptism, like Christ’s, involves a symbolic and spiritual transformation.

 

The baptism of Christ demonstrated both the symbolic (physical) and spiritual nature of baptism. He was baptized in the water to demonstrate the symbolic cleansing gained through repentance(though we need it and he did not). We continue to follow his example to symbolically demonstrate the cleansing we received through our repentance. Just as the water baptism did not make Jesus the Christ, we know our water baptism does not make us Christian. It is a symbolic step we take to publically demonstrate the transition in our life. Going through the public action helps us find support and holds us accountable as we have a congregation witness our declaration of change.

 

The real transformation comes internally as we gain access to the Holy Spirit through our repentance and acceptance of Christ as the way the truth and the light. Jesus’s baptism brought all three portion of the Trinity together: father, son, Holy Spirit. The coming together of the Trinity gave a glimpse of what we could expect when the Holy Spirit was released into the world as a guide for all who believe. We now have the full power and wisdom of God with us (as demonstrated by the disciples Christ sent out). Our every action after our baptism should reflect the change. We are faulty people and will never reach the perfection of Christ, but we have the opportunity through our baptism in the Holy Spirit.

 

Baptism is one of the most powerful parts of Christianity. It, along with communion (or the Lord’s Supper) are the consistent symbolic acts across Christian denominations. As both a symbolic representation and spiritual transformation nothing is a more meaningful act in our faith. Today as we reflect on the baptism of the Lord, let us also reflect on our own baptism and just what it means in our life.

Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org