Saturday, August 21, 2004

Baptism again 5

Baptism again!     5

We people of God are the people the Holy Spirit of God sends into the world to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Sent into the world at Jesus' command, empowered, enabled, "Spirited" into the world in the power of the activity of the Holy Spirit of God and of the Christ. And doesn't our baptism, our baptism into Jesus' death and resurrection—baptism into Good Friday and Easter Sunday—reveal the content of our proclamation to us? For Paul, the Gospel is "Death and Resurrection." We are baptized for events like September 11; we are baptized for times of loss and grief and sorrow; we are led to the living waters of baptism in order to make real and to reveal to a world in pain the promised presence of Jesus the Christ. We are baptized to be the Body of the at once crucified and risen Christ to the world, to be and to speak the Word of Life, the life-giving Word.

Our baptism is about Immanuel, "God With Us" (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23) the God Who, as Spirit—and as flesh!—makes Shekinah, makes a dwelling-place, a home and a space in the midst of us and within us. Empowering us with the Spirit of the Living God, the Spirit falling afresh on us every moment. The Spirit of the Living God and of the Christ indwelling each of us individuals, indwelling our community of the Church, the Body of the at once Crucified and Risen Christ. Enabling our response. We are Immanuel, "God With Us" to a broken, shattered and alienated world crying aloud in its pain and to a world suffering in silence. And we are Immanuel, "God With Us" to a world rejoicing in its healing and wholeness!

In 1st Corinthians (1 Corinthians 5:18-19) Paul unmistakably tells us, twice in a row. the content of our lived ministry and proclamation: our ministry is reconciliation; we proclaim the God of Life has overwhelmed and overcome the powers of death. (Romans 6:9) Life and death have contended, but the victory decisively belongs to the God of Life, the God of Life Who hands over to us the defeat of the powers of death in Jesus our Christ. Our triumph is freedom from bondage/slavery, forgiveness of sins/transgressions and homecoming from exile/alienation. Theologian J├╝rgen Moltmann describes baptism, our baptism as "representation, witness, sign and illumination of the Christ event." He says, "it points away from itself in the direction of Christ alone." So very true!!! Just as Jesus goes to the cross with us and beside us, we are baptized into Jesus' death and resurrection to go to the cross with and beside our neighbors in the world into which we've been sent. We are baptized for events like September 11; we are baptized for times such as loss and grief and sorrow; we are led to the baptismal waters in order to make real and reveal the promised presence of Jesus the Christ. We are baptized to be the Body of the at once crucified and risen Christ to the world, to speak the redemptive and redeeming Word of Life, the Word God promises never will return to Him empty.

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