The Ineffective Power of Baptism

*This week, our community will participate together in R&Bs first official baptism, which is a ritual that may be foreign to many. Part of our DNA is to inspect, dissect, and rebuild traditions, and in that spirit, here's a little primer on what baptism might mean:

The Ineffective Power of Baptism

Like a lot of religious stuff, baptism is odd. Therein lies the secret of its beauty and power. Baptism is done once and only once. It doesn’t in fact “do” anything. Unlike communion where we return over and over to practicing community with God and others, sprinkling or dunking someone in water is a sheer, unnecessary plunge into what is just straight up given to us.

If we get too worried about what it all “means,” we get it backwards. Then it becomes “I need to go through a ritual with this specific meaning in order to get a spiritual payoff.” But the whole point of baptism is that no action, no process, can make us worthy of love. The glaring ineffectiveness of the make-believe washing reminds us of the “here it is” quality of God’s love for us. It’s a subversion of an actual cleansing, which would imply that we need to be buffed up and polished before deserving total love.

The gathered community is also central to baptism. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are entering into a commitment with the person being baptized, to reflect in our own imperfect ways the same love we are coming to know and trust. We are for one another a real, radical, tangible, day-to-day reminder of God’s overflowing, surging, sustaining love.