When early Christians saw the word robe, they thought of one thing only.
Remembering our baptism enables us to step out of our old life, at least for a moment.
The other day I was sitting in a coffee shop and couldn’t help overhearing an interesting and intense debate on the other side of the room. An older gentleman was trying his best to aid an inquisitive college student who had some hard-hitting questions. She asked about scripture, about authority and about the church. One question kept popping up: “What is the difference between truth for you, truth for me and truth with a capital T?”
"The walking dead.” These are the words of African-American soldier Leon Bass as he described the horror he saw when Americans liberated prisoners in the Buchenwald prison camp in April 1945. Today some call confirmed drug addicts “the walking dead.” Then there’s the book/film Dead Man Walking—which describes many of us spiritually.
Names are sacred words by which we are individualized. Jesus, in baptism, received a new name. So do his followers. Baptism also sets each of us apart as a particular kind of person—one owned by God. Those who have been baptized are called to live out the meaning of this remarkable reality.
One day toward the end of my summer in Paris, the concierge’s wife prepared supper for Camus and me. We had planned to take a ride that afternoon, but after we finished our meal, we could not bring ourselves to leave. We chose instead to sit and enjoy the view of the river. We were both relaxed and enjoying the weather when Camus broke the silence: “Howard, do you perform baptisms?”
The baptism of Jesus is Mark's Christmas story.