Rich Paxson

4.4 In the Discussion Forum of this unit, share ways in which you have noticed the content, questions or insights from the previous session showing up in your lives

“What is baptism?” Discussion around this topic absorbed about half of last Sunday’s book study in the hour between the eight and ten o’clock services at our small Episcopal parish. This fall we’re studying: ‘Born of Water, Born of Spirit: Supporting the Ministry of the Baptized in Small Congregations,’ by Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook and Fredrica Harris-Thompsett. http://amzn.to/2eFvkR1

Most of our group of seven thought of baptism as an event, something that happens to an infant, not an ongoing life experience akin to the shift from being formed primarily by the social other to being reborn into the leading of the Other other.

A lifelong process where at times the Spirit may drag us ‘through a bush backward,’ as James has written. Or, on other occasions, the Spirit may flood our senses with the beauty of the world ‘Just Now,’ or with a sense of our bond to those we are encountering ‘Just Now.’ For me, both experiences testify to the Spirit’s baptizing presence – yesterday, today and tomorrow.

It’s hard to share ideas like those in the above paragraphs in a fifty-minute book study. I tried not to be pedantic by using the image of a drop of black ink infusing a glass of clear water. The ink drop falls into the water. Initially, the dark ink contrasts sharply with its clear surroundings. Soon, however, the ink spreads throughout the glass transferring its tincture into all of the water.

The sacrament of baptism corresponds to the drop of ink hitting the water in the glass, which represents a person’s life. It takes a lifetime for the ink to permeate the whole glass – to suffuse all of the life’s experience. The analogy agrees with the Other other’s atoning movement toward humanity in the ardent desire of infusing all of our personal choices and all of our life’s comportment.