Today’s prompt is water, and I admit that when I saw it I smiled. There was only one thing I wanted to write about as soon as I saw the word, and I think my Christian brethren know what that is.
Baptism is the first rite of passage so many faithful undergo in their journey to becoming full-fledged members of the Church. It is a rite found in Scripture, lovingly detailed for us to read about time and time again, and is arguably the most famous Sacrament known even to those who are not Christian (tied for that honour is Communion, but that is for another post). Baptism can be done either by sprinkling water on the head, or by full immersion; that is, being fully submerged in water. The delivery tends to vary from parish to parish.
One thing that has really stuck out to me in my own spiritual journey is how little anyone discusses adult baptism. There is an assumption that most will be baptized as babies, and undergo the Sacraments at the appointed age, but this isn’t true for a select group of Christians who find their faith later. Something that was frustrating for me as an adult convert – particularly when researching for a church in my area to attend – was going to the Sacraments part of a website, clicking on Baptism, and finding only information related to infant baptism. There was never anything about adult baptism.
It took awhile for me to discover that baptism, and the other Sacraments, lay behind the gate of catechesis classes. This is the case for several denominations, although it is true that some churches offer baptism as a standalone Sacrament. Upon learning of this, I felt somewhat torn. Did I want to go ahead with a baptism now, and then find my place on the spectrum of faith later? Or did I want to take the journey in one go, and take the classes in the church I felt was home, accepting the Sacraments only after I felt prepared?
Needless to say, I opted for the latter. I wanted my conversion to mean something. I wanted to do it the “right” way, since there wouldn’t be a “do over”. I wanted to learn and grow in faith in the church that was right to me, and only after proper preparation would I take my place as a full member of the faithful.
Baptism is such a special Sacrament. It is the first we receive, and it is so powerful. By being baptized with the grace of the Trinity we are being cleansed of our sins and welcomed as a brother or sister of Christ. We are being marked as one of God’s own, and nothing and no one can take that away from us. It is the first step we ever take on a holy path, and for many of us it is taken even before we can walk. There’s something truly profound about that.
I have always associated water with cleansing, and as having some kind of healing power. It is mysterious and beautiful, very serene in its own right. It is fitting that it is the conduit of grace for Christ, and that it should be used to wash away our sins as we become a new-born member of the Church community.