“Where will we find water?” – Exodus 15: 24
I don’t want to pick a fight about baptism so much as to say that the ritual itself may need a good long look. I was trained to think that when parents baptized children they were also promising to raise the child in the church. Loren Mead, founder of the Alban Institute, put it well, “Never put a ten dollar plant in a two dollar pot.”
Since soccer won the Sunday contest and the two career family encouraged people to actually rest on Sunday, early formation has become possible till about sixth grade and impossible after that. That is not enough. It takes a whole life to learn the golden rule of neighboring. Not to mention what it takes to learn to put God first.
Matt Cutts is a very popular TED talker. His “Try something new for thirty days” is a brilliant and practical approach to the matter of becoming new. He digs a deep hole thirty days at a time. We may need constant baptism and rebaptism to find the water our spiritual thirsts desire.
The Bible is a thread talk and merits happy attention. If you live till 90 and have a little time each day to think about its threads, you might begin to understand it. Regular practice allows the fork to hit the grits in life-long learning about what it means to become a Christian. There won’t be one quick shift but instead a holy ongoing shift. I hope you get the joke. Christians learn to use their troubles as a tutorial. The devil’s mischief makes you thirsty, and the gospel quenches your baptismal hunger for the water of your life.
Baptize us over and over again, O God. Use water if necessary. Amen.
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her most recent book is I Heart Frances: Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer.