In what the pastor called a divine coincidence or lack thereof, a la C.S. Lewis*, there was a baptism on Jesus’ Baptism Sunday.** While those moments are admittedly intriguing, it was a related, but separate moment that led to this post.
I was unexpectedly moved during the ritual of baptism. I say unexpectedly because I have been to my share of baptisms in my life: Standard baby baptisms, adult baptisms, immersion baptisms, and others I am likely forgetting. I appreciate the opportunity to participate in these services and be reminded of why baptism matters.
Rev. Pablo spoke about how lucky five-year-old Miguel was to be at an age where he would remember his baptism. Baptism marks you as a child of God, he said, so most parents hurry to have it done.
I often wrestle with this element of baptism. Does God not recognize those who go unbaptized? What does it mean if you were not baptized? These aren’t earth-shattering questions, but important all the same. Of course, spiritual leaders rarely grapple with them during the happy occasion of baptism.
As far as I could tell, this was no different during our service. Though I continue to struggle with the spiritual weight we place on this ritual, I was thankful that we chose instead to just enjoy the moment. Often, I (and this is not unique to me) privilege analysis over enjoyment.
The baptism began familiarly. Rev. Pablo baptized in the name of the Father, the son and the Holy Ghost (not gender inclusive, but what are you gonna do?). Miguel resisted giggling as the water trickled down his forehead and the nape of his neck.
Then, Rev. Pablo invited his mother, godparents, sister, and cousins to come forward and bless him with the water themselves. “I’m not the one with the magic touch,” he said. “You are all a part of this.”
It was a simple, but powerful twist. It recognized that a crucial part of every baptism is the communal commitment to fostering faith.
As the baptism came to a close, Rev. Pablo, sprinkled each of us with water used in the ritual as flicked from a pine branch. A physical reminder to accompany the more metaphorical, spirituality provided by the baptism.
These were both new spins on the ritual. I do not know if they are unique to Cristo Rey or if they are part of the Lutheran tradition, or a tradition here in Peru.
I will find that information out, but that is in the interest of analysis, the accumulation of knowledge. Analysis is a critical part of my YAV year, but right now, I am just enjoying that moment.
*Still trying to find a clear reference to what he was talking about in Lewis’ writing. If you know of one, let me know!
**The Sunday on which we commemorate Jesus’ baptism by his offbeat cousin, John the Baptist. There’s excessive humility, symbolic doves, and Jesus reminds John that he matters.