Sunday, November 03, 2013

Adults or children? Dunking or sprinkling? Audience or congregation?

I saw two baptisms today - a baby sprinkled at my parish this morning, and 36 adults and older children dunked at a megachurch service this evening, including my roommate (so happy for him!).

I think the Episcopal and Catholic Churches get baptism wrong. Now, I absolutely do love our associated liturgies - we bring in context, remind the baptized and all present of the purpose, and involve the larger community. I think all churches should do something similar.

But, though I've not gone through it myself, I have to imagine that immersion is a more emotional and powerful experience. It's certainly more Scriptural. And the pastor's right in there with you.

More importantly, an adult is actively and publicly choosing to proclaim that they want to set aside the things of man and become a Disciple. When it's a conscious choice, it's the largest choice anyone will ever make, touching and ruling every aspect of their life. What a powerful statement - and it's very, very different than welcoming a baby into the Body of Christ and proclaiming we'll look out for it. So why use the same symbol or ceremony for two very different meanings? Don't get me wrong; the latter is a beautiful thing - but it's not the SAME thing. Why then do we say that if you have one, you can't have the other?

I'm not saying we should do away with that welcoming ceremony. But I do believe that the Episcopal Church should either allow people to be baptized a second time as an adult, or rename it when babies are welcomed - just call it christening, or whatever. But it's not the same thing and we should stop treating it as such.

Immersion would be cool, too, but one thing at a time. :P

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