Sunday, December 11, 2016

Advent, Day 15: Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord

After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized— John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison.

- John 3:22-24

We may hear from many prophets during the season of Advent, but they all lead to this one: John the Baptist, who heralds the arrival of the Messiah.

Baptism is a big deal. In the Episcopal Church we see it as the rite that makes a believer into a Christian. Tradition has dictated for a long, long time that this be done inside a church building with just a little splash of water. But as for me, I am enamored by the idea of using as much water as possible; if you're going to use a symbol, then really use the symbol!

Of course, it doesn't really matter how much water we use, just as long as the believer gets wet.

Water is death, and water is life. Water is chaos, and water symbolizes God bringing order to the chaos. Water is barrier, and water is freedom. Water quenches our thirst. Water is the human condition.

In my own congregation, we are at the beginning of our catechumenal process for the year, that ancient way of preparing believers to become Christians through the waters of baptism. This year we are welcoming a married couple into the fold. They have been assigned sponsors to walk alongside them in their weekly preparations.

In addition, seven people who are already baptized will prepare to renew the vows they made in their baptism years ago. They, too, have sponsors to guide them. Baptism is intended to be a one-time event, but the promises we make can be strengthened again and again, not only by our own efforts, but through the grace of God who is always saving us.

Enjoy today a very 1970s take on John the Baptist!

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