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June 16, 2020

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:3-4

Erika and the kids are out of town for a few days, enjoying some socially distanced time with family. This means, among others things, that it’s my job to water the flowers, plants, and the new grass we have growing (trying to fill in some patches). This is work that Erika usually does, because she enjoys it. But I think I’m up to the task. The thing is, of course, I can’t just do this once during the week and be done with it. The plants need more nourishment than that.

Watering plants makes me think of baptism, the cleansing, life-giving waters of grace by which we are connected to Christ. But baptism leads to life only by going through death. In baptism we are connected first to Christ’s death, and only then to his life. Which is to say, baptism kills us. Really. In the least metaphorical way possible. And because it truly kills us, it makes us truly alive. We can walk in newness of life. We can begin to live differently.

We are baptized only once, but we are called to center our living in these gracious waters day after day after day. Otherwise we’ll dry out and continue in sin. And that, Paul writes, is by no means what God has in mind for us. This world is a dry place, where real sin does real damage. Finally, we are beginning to own up in widespread ways to the sins of racism, systemic oppression, and white supremacy. Overcoming this is work to which we will need to tend day after day, accepting the baptismal call each morning to rise to newness of life.

This is the work to which we are called, and it is possible to do it. For we work in the name of the risen Christ. In him, we live. In him, the chains the bind us have fallen. In him, we can begin to make a world that more closely mirrors the Kingdom that will one day come, in which black people, and all people of color, are seen for who they are: Beautiful, beloved siblings in Christ.

Excuse me, I have to go move the sprinkler.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God of life, thank you for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, in whom I have died and in whom I now live. Guide me lest I fall into sin. Free me again from all that binds me, that I might live to your glory and in service of my neighbors. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: Some flowers I should probably water.

From → COVID-19

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