All Are Transformed!

18 04 2013

By David Lloyd, Integrated Formation Ministries

Baptism is an outward sign of inner transformation.

Baptism is an outward sign of inner transformation.

Most of us know the joy felt when someone chooses to unite with our church family. It’s a blessed experience that calls us to consider the waters’ renewal and the Spirit’s fire within us.

I’ve watched as people decided publicly to proclaim that choice through baptism and confirmation, each event as unique as the people themselves. I’ve also clarified my perspectives as I’ve witnessed those who recently have declared their discipleship in these ordinances.

The act of baptism is strange in my North American culture; our rituals of washing usually are private. Yet, there we are together, standing on smooth river rocks, sandy ocean beaches, swimming pool decks, or in sanctuaries near a font. We re-create this ancient tradition, sometimes failing to recognize that all of us are experiencing baptism. “New life” enters though this “new creation.”

Community of Christ changes. Our willful separation washes away as we become one in Christ. We each transform!

I’ve come to understand that sacraments are outward acts of what already is happening within. A baby is blessed by God long before the ordinance, but the community experiences the “aha!” moment as we celebrate this good news. We usually recognize a person’s call to priesthood before ordination, but we “get it” as we bow in prayer together.

Likewise, we move past the thought of baptism and confirmation as the spiritual “starting point” of discipleship. Instead, the two sacraments proclaim where the journey now intersects with the community. Baptism becomes the invitation to “pack together” as new obstacles and vistas open to us.

Confirmation is another ancient and emerging concept in our faith movement. Just what do we believe we are “confirming”? Maybe confirmation is less what we’re doing, and more what the community is witnessing. Maybe we’re saying, “Yes, we see it!” The body confirms a witness of the Holy Spirit’s presence within the disciple. What an exciting celebration for all involved!

I recently witnessed the baptism and confirmation of two wonderful young-adult women who over several years became a part of my own family. I don’t know the moment they became family, but I found great joy when I recognized it. I’m equally unsure when they discovered the Holy Spirit’s presence (though it was long before they came into my church) or became part of our church family.

Both recognized God and their inclusion within the community before asking for baptism and confirmation. We never pushed them to join but are humbled they chose to explore their faith adventures with us.

This intersecting blessing between God, individuals, and the community has always been present in the church. Past assurances crisscross with future possibilities in the present sacrament. Finite and infinite connect. All are transformed!

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