There are a thousand and more ways to describe baptism. All will be inadequate. For every major Christian â€œdivisionâ€â€”Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestantâ€”there are a variety traditions and rituals that celebrate baptism.
The Baptism of the Lord â€“ 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.
Iâ€™m a United Methodist. I have papers to prove it and people thatâ€™ll vouch for me. So please trust me when I say one baptism is sufficient in my denominationâ€™s tradition. If youâ€™re United Methodist and reading this, Iâ€™m right, right? If youâ€™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 â€œnoneâ€ as a religious affiliation), I guess you gotta trust me. Though, if youâ€™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 Iâ€™ve been baptized not once, but a thousand and more ways. To use language as comforting as it is unsettling for some, Iâ€™ve been born again. And again. And again. And again. There has been literal and symbolic water throughout my life. You get the point.