Baptism, Water, and our World


 William Loader


Water has to do all the hard work: softening, washing, refreshing, sometimes under pressure, changing and reshaping things. Water has shaped continents, carved out great gorges and dug deep valleys. Sometimes it rises and falls endlessly in the cycle of vapour and falling rain. Sometimes it hides deep within the earth’s crust waiting future discovery. No wonder water has been a symbol of life and hope and depth and God.

The droplets of water on a child’s forehead in baptism in a moment of time symbolise an eternity of goodness flowing from the heart of God, a river of love that seeks unendingly to reproduce itself in the lives of people. Some people choose to be blocked pipes allowing no flow in or out, stagnant with their own pre-occupation or guilt or shame. Others want it only one way, receiving the flow, but then blocking its onward course for fear of loss or for fear of giving. Some belong to those dry lands so cut off from the flow that they fill the statistics of the 22,000 people who die daily from extreme poverty. 


Everywhere we are looking for water. Our world needs compassion like it needs water. To celebrate baptism is to say again: we want to be where the river flows. We want to wade in its waters and we want to make sure its benefits reach out to all who hunger and thirst – for God or just to survive.


Baptism is a big agenda of generosity, a promise of hope and change, for us and for our world, a sharing in the ongoing life of Christ and the love of God for all humanity. It begins with letting that water sink deeply into our own soil and opening ourselves to the wonder of new life.


More on baptism:  Baptism in Context and Conversion and Baptism and the Kiss of Baptism


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