Certainly Baptism is our ritual entry into the church and the entire communion of saints. It's when we dive in. It's often an infant's first big party amid family and friends. It's immersion, even for children too young to recognize that everyone is celebrating that their small selves are part of a much bigger and deeply holy whole.
I love the author's reframing of original sin as the negative legacy of our ancestors. Baptism opens the cleansing flow we'll need our whole lives, in which the church community helps us again and again to discover our freedom from handed-on burdens and losses - and also to restore freedom we have lost through our own actions. In that freedom we are buoyed up by the fresh presence of God in and among us.
But Baptism is more than a washing away of negative legacies. It's our first dive into the legacy of Jesus Christ and the community of his followers, the vast communion of saints. While there have been terrible wrongs as part of that legacy, it is fundamentally and abundantly a legacy of limitless hope and love. We are given, in Baptism, a community to help us explore that legacy.
Water is a splendid symbol for the sacrament. Water washes, immerses, lifts up, carries us to new places. To be carried by the water of the Spirit's life, we must risk old safeties. Like so much that we dive into when young, we don't know what we're getting into.
Baptism is just the first of our three sacraments of initiation, our steps toward awareness of what it means to call ourselves followers of Christ. The communion of saints gives me courage on the journey.
Thanks to Pastor Fergus Tyson for permission to use the above artwork, which is found in a recent Pastor's Postings at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I particularly love his new "prayers of the saints," like Thomas Merton's prayer, "Give me the strength that waits for you in silence and in peace..."