Monday, July 19, 2010

What is the big deal about baptism?

This past weekend I had the honor to baptize some of the kids that I work with.  Despite how I fight my hardest to break myself away from religious observance, baptism holds a special place in my heart. Why?

This is such an interesting world we live in with so many diverse ways of understanding how things work.  So many of us are overwhelmed by the choices that we live in apathy.  A good friend of mine Phil Caan once shared a statistic with me that on average people spend more time in their lives picking their nose than they do thinking about what they believe. I once ran into a bumper sticker that can of outlines the overwhelming complexity of what people feel when it comes to spirituality:
Baptism to me represents a public declaration that a person is willing to publicly stand up for something.  Not only that but they are allowing other people the right to hold them accountable to that choice.  Baptism doesn't mark completion or perfection, but rather a simple understanding that we need a reboot, a fresh start.  It is a symbol of drowning out all the stuff that doesn't work and starting over with God.

For this particular young person I remember when she first texted me saying that she thought she believed in God. I brought it up when I had lunch with her that day with two of her friends.  When I said, "so you believe in God now.  What changed?"  Her friends snapped their heads around so fast I though they might snap off.  She clammed up and didn't want to respond.  I could tell I'd crossed a line that I shouldn't of.  One girl I had only met that day.  I asked her if she believed in God and she said, "not really, no".  Then I knew I had to rescue the conversation so I said, "maybe we got off on the wrong foot, "Do you fold or wad your toilet paper?" That got a laugh and we carried on.  I can't convey how proud I was to stand with my young friend and listen to her boldly and confidently proclaim her faith and love in Jesus.  She was baptized with a crowd of her friends looking on.  Many of whom had never set foot in a church before.  Whether or not any of those young people follow in her footsteps is not for me to decide, and if they choose to believe something else then at least they have made a choice and were not just content to have their finger stuck up their nose.
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