When we celebrate and ritualize Baptism it must be done from a theology that is grounded in the Gospels. The Gospel of Mark gives us a direct and pointed theological stance on which to conduct our baptismal rituals. Jesus is Son of God. The first theological point here is that God is the One who acts regardless of our rituals and requirements. John the Baptist thought he was conducting one of his baptisms of repentence but God had other plans. Jesus emerges from the water to a full revelation. Repentence has given way to Love. And no human decision should get in the way of God's action.

This sense of God's presence and revelation in each of our lives is the primary theological point for us who ritualize Baptism. Cardinal John Newman had this to say about this dependence upon God's action. He was still a Vicar in the Anglican Church when he preached his sermon on professing our faith. He said,

"...(A) man's real reason for attachment to his own religious communion, why he believes it to be true, why he is eager in its defence, why he feels indignant at being invited to abandon it, is not any series of historical or philosophical arguments, not any thing merely beautiful in its system, or supernatural, but what it has done for him and others; his confidence in it as a means by which men may be brought nearer to God, and may become better and happier."

So it turns out that Cardinal Newman, the same John Henry Newman, is a pragmatist. Regardless of your faith communion what matters is your becoming nearer to God. This is a helpful message for those communities who only think they are determining how God is to be presented with their rules and requirements. In the end it is Jesus who emerges from the old and bursts into life not as we would have it but as God would have it.

Recently a good friend of mine found her dog after being gone for almost three days. She could hardly express her gratitude, each time she tried she burst into tears. It occurred to me if we can experience such gratitude when something or someone we lost is found to us, then how much more must we live closer to God who is the first and fundamental giver of Faith and Life.

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