“I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me. . .He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” –Matthew 3:11
I was an Advent baptism—December 5, 1965. Thus, for me each Advent is a time to reflect on what it means that I am baptized.
I wonder if John the Baptist’s words above were read for me on that day. John is clear that the baptism he could offer to people in the waters of the Jordan river was only a beginning. A washing that signals a repentance, an altered trajectory by the one being doused. John seems to think the one who comes later will finish the cleansing with more powerful tools, the airblaster and purging fire of the Holy Spirit. Was John fully aware of the good news he got to proclaim? That the baptism Jesus brings means joining the household of God as a beloved child, taking up the very dance between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the life of God.
My life since that December Sunday in 1965 has been one of growing in the grace bestowed on me. There have been long seasons where my baptism something thin, a hardly remembered ritual in my past that communicated a need for God in this life. Gradually, after 55 years, I become intrigued with the awesome power and hope God poured into me. I was baptized with God’s own Holy Spirit which gives me faith, power to live beyond death, to have compassion for all people, and to serve with boldness—if I dare. I am still learning.
What do you know of your baptism and how have you been growing in its promise?
Lord, thank you for my baptism. Help me always to grow into the life you have opened for me. Make me bold to live in the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.