As I’ve been considering the baptism of Jesus, it has caused me to reflect upon my own. I had two official baptisms and then one unofficial baptism. There have been three. Three defining moments, each opening up a new chapter of my story as a follower of Jesus. The first took place in the Southern Baptist Church in which I was raised, the second in a valley in China, and the third in the Episcopal Church.
The thing I love about baptism is that you don’t exactly know for sure what you’re signing up for when it happens. I suppose I can’t speak for everyone, but has been the case for me. Sure, I knew I was making a commitment to Jesus and the Church, but each time I didn’t exactly know what all that entailed. Each time I got baptized, I also got surprised. I ended up doing things I never thought I’d do. I ended up believing things I swore I’d never believe. I ended up viewing the world differently than I had before. People I hadn’t thought so highly of before ended up growing on me. Each time it was the beginning of something new.
This is why I always get excited when I witness a baptism. I smile and clap and think to myself “you just don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. Have fun!"
“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Cor. 5:17)
Whenever I was younger and used to read this verse, the image that came to mind was something nice and sweet like a daisy sprouting out of the ground on a spring day. As I’ve gotten older, this talk about "new creations” has become more and more mysterious. Rather than a flower, the image that comes to mind today is that of a newborn child, fresh out of the womb— bloody, screaming, and all.
Maybe it’s because I’ve spent enough time going down into the depths and then being raised back to life, that I know that process isn’t always pretty, but it is part of the journey. It’s fulfilling.
I often wish I could be baptized everyday just to be reminded that there are fresh new opportunities awaiting me, to be reminded that God has granted me fresh, new mercies, and to be reminded that I am a new creation. (Though I do confess, I sometimes pretend my cat is baptizing me when he licks my forehead. “In the name of the Father” *lick* “And the Son” *lick* “And the Holy Spirit” *lick*)
Dear friends, at the beginning of this new year, may we be reminded that we are new creations. And may we be baptized and renewed daily by the Spirit of God, who has graciously and freely given us the gift of Himself, and who promises to sustain us always.