DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR BAPTISM?
HOW IMPORTANT IS YOUR BAPTISM?
Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin (Romans 6:4-7 NRSV).
Rituals are important! They often mark the transition from one state of being to another. Think about the last wedding you attended. How important was this ritual of exchanging vows? The minister could just sign the wedding certificate without words, vows, or readings but the couple probably would not feel married. Think about the last funeral you attended. What would our existence be like if a doctor at the hospital simply signed a death certificate and that was all there was to saying goodbye to a person who is deceased? What about a graduation ceremony? What if at the end of twelve long years of school we simply signed a document that stated the student completed senior year? We'd be appalled at a school that did not mark such a moment!
Rituals mark transitions. Paul seems to realize this as he reminds the Roman Christians of their baptism. They are making a transition from the kingdom of Sin to God’s kingdom. They are making a transition from death to life. They are making a transition from old life to new creation.
How does this happen? The transition from death to life does not happen simply by going through the motions but because God is at work in baptism. Paul says, “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
God has intruded into human history to make all things new in Christ. God does the uniting as we experience the ritual of baptism. Your baptism is very important, both the event and afterward. We are asked, like to the Roman Christians, to live into our baptism. We spend our life living into the new reality God in Christ has made for us. The love of God in Christ comes home to us again as we remember our baptism.
What rituals have marked major transitions in your life? Recall the circumstances of your baptism. Reflect on the reality that God did more in your baptism than you realized at the time.
Lord God, thank you for the new life I have in you. Thank you for rescuing me from the power of Sin and making all things new. Help me to live into this new creation.
Mark Manassee is Senior Minister of Culver Palms Church of Christ, a vibrant mosaic of people representing the rich cultural and ethnic diversity of Los Angeles. "Our experiences are varied," says the church, "but we are united in and by the love of Christ."