There are a thousand and more ways to describe baptism. All will be inadequate. For every major Christian “division”—Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant—there are a variety traditions and rituals that celebrate baptism.
The Baptism of the Lord – for January 9, 2011
And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
Water . . . Sprinkle or dunk? Living water or from the tap?
Age . . . Infant or adult? Adolescent or when God calls?
Words . . . Metaphoric or literal? Traditional or modern?
Tradition . . . Catholic or Anabaptist? One baptism or many?
Where . . . In worship or not in worship? A sanctuary or river?
The mystery called baptism is just that. Mystery.
I’m a United Methodist. I have papers to prove it and people that’ll vouch for me. So please trust me when I say one baptism is sufficient in my denomination’s tradition. If you’re United Methodist and reading this, I’m right, right? If you’re a Protestant of a different ilk, or maybe live in the so-called None-Zone (the Pacific Northwest where around 2/3 of the residents claim “none” as a religious affiliation), I guess you gotta trust me. Though, if you’re a None-Zoner, trusting others about religion probably ranks low in the order of likely responses.
But one baptism it is.
And yet, the mystery called baptism is just that because I’ve been baptized not once, but a thousand and more ways. To use language as comforting as it is unsettling for some, I’ve been born again. And again. And again. And again. There has been literal and symbolic water throughout my life. You get the point.