We are blessed to have baptism as a familiar event in our common life. But, just what is it about this ancient ritual that is so central to our faith?
Christianity is a backwards sort of faith.
We talk about baptism as dying and born to a new life of faith. We spend a whole week telling the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection so we might become clear that
dying precedes living
– unlike the world around us, which insists that first we live, and then we die. As Retired Presiding Bishop, Frank Griswold, said: "If we have not died, we cannot know the resurrection."
What do we mean when we speak of death preceding life? Why is this truth so important to you and me?
It is certainly not pointing to some religious fantasy that all will be well in the by-and-by in the sky. Nor are we confessing some complex and obtuse philosophy with which to write off the sufferings of the world. Instead, we are pointing to a profound and riveting truth about each and every life and shown most clearly in the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our story claims, in fact, that
there is nothing in life that can be defeated by death
. Life cannot be defeated by death, because we are loved by the God of Life for all time and forever.
A baptismal life seeks this truth for our own lives and the lives in which we share. We come to live it and proclaim it because it is the most astonishing fact of our experience. It lifts our burdens, transforms our sorrows, provides strength for the journey, gives hope for our future, provides an immovable foundation on which to stand, and above all fills our life with joy.
What it is to be loved like that!
The rest of our lives become acts of gratitude for the grace we receive with every breath we take.
As we begin this stewardship season, our gift of life and our thankfulness for what has been given to us can be expressed through the prayerful decisions about how we use not only our time and talent, but also the material resources in our care. Each pledge is a reflection of our gratitude for the gifts of God’s grace in our lives, and a commitment to God’s service in word and deed.
May God continue to bless you with generosity of heart and soul, peace of mind, and the joy of relationship of the One who loves you more than life itself.
The Reverend Susan N. Eaves