Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Baptism and beyond

Over the past two Sundays the church at St David's Applecross has had the joy of two consecutive baptisms.  One on the celebration of the Baptism of our Lord and one on the Second Sunday of Epiphany.

During these services we have come to see how important our baptism into Christ is at its significance for our lives as Christians in the world.  My initial question was posed at the first of these services in terms of our understanding of what is original sin in a modern context and most especially in terms of a baby or child brought to baptism?

Our primal urge as human beings is for our own self preservation, from birth onwards we are concerned with our own continued existence.  A baby will squeal and squall when it hungry, wet, or needs attention.  In certain respects this need for the self can be linked back to the Genesis story of Eve's temptation and resultant fall by the serpent.  It is her selfishness to taste and obtain something that looks good and similarly with Adam when presented with the fruit, that leads them to the fall.  Yes, they disobey God but in doing so they act upon their own selfish understanding and needs.  Just as the baby does, although in the case of the baby it knows no better, other than its selfish desire of preservation and comfort.  Indeed we can often see in the conflicts of the world a root in selfish behaviour, whether it is in terms of fundamentalist religion or the needs and wants of nation states on 'behalf' of their own populace.  Our consumerist society of course plays on that selfishness to the extent that we create desire in people for drugs, tv programmes, sport, alcohol, 'essential' conveniences, etc, etc.

Often when we are discern the gifts given to us at baptism we treat these with selfishness harbouring them for our benefit or else trading inconsequential snide remarks to try and retain power or authority over some small area of our communal lives.  W are given gifts but treat them as personal precious belongings not to be shred or if shared in such a way that it belongs to ourselves.  Like Gollum in the Lord of the Rings we try to retain our 'precious's' for ourselves.  In doing so we come into conflict or harbour spitefulness in our own lives.  We reveal to the world that which is of the world rather than as was 'hoped' when baptised, become bearers of the light and died to sin.

Godparents and parents are asked to bring their children up into Christ, into selflessness.  we are asked at confirmation to take on those promises/vows of selflessness for ourselves.  In obedience to Christ we are asked to put aside thoughts of ourselves and take upon ourselves a way of life that reaches out to the other and enhances their lives rather than our own.  Perhaps this is extremely counter intuitive for survival in today's world and in any society.  Yet that is precisely what we are asked as Christians to do as part of our life in Christ.  We must abandon our own lives and live lives that give life to others.  It is a sacrifice that means that we must let go of the boxes and boundaries that we have placed around ourselves for our protection.  Boxes and boundaries that are put their by our own selfishness.

Let us open our boxes and share the contents with the world

Let us give away our controlling structures and embrace the fact that others may also be called into relationship with ourselves as we are required to do through our baptism.  Others who have different views and different outlooks that need to be accommodated within our lives so that we can  truly become one body in Christ rather than groups of selfish individuals putting up fences and walls to delineate  our selfish wants and power structures.

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