This festival day is a singular moment in the New Testament. Along with the visit of the wise men and the wedding at Cana, it is one of the cornerstones of the Epiphany season. What does Jesus’ baptism mean? What does our Christian baptism mean? What does your baptism mean to you? Why was it important to you to have your children baptized?
The Protestant Reformers–with Luther first among them on this point–made baptism the home base in their “protests” against the medieval church. The priesthood of all believers would have been nonsense without the call to a Christian life given through baptism.
The liturgical movement of the last half of the 20th century was a “return to baptism”. This was viewed as an ecumenical emphasis, a common point of entry into the Christian faith for all Christians, and a place to find further common ground through dialogue. How does baptism work in the church today? Is there too much emphasis on baptism, on the “assembly of the baptized”, etc., or too little attention paid to it?
Sunday we’ll think about the many meanings of baptism in the Christian church: a spiritual washing, a rite of passage, a ritual of the earth, a rebirth, a sign of faith and devotion, a sacrament, an adoption, a sign of God’s love and unconditional acceptance.