Some days ago I explained that the concrete world we live in is permeated by spiritual reality. The reason we cannot "see" God is because we cannot really "see" many things that we "know" are there. Faith is the key. Today I would like to look at those events in church which are means of "seeing" God at work...
Water, we have been told, is the primary component of the human body. It is also covers most of the earth. Water can be lifegiving or destructive. Water cleans and refreshes, it also washes away and destroys.
There is a powerful psychological experience of "feeling dirty" and needing to "get clean" which is connected to some particularly nasty encounters or experiences. In a movie a woman taking a shower was often a less graphic way to depict that she had been vilated. Humans are constructed in such a way that the experience of guilt/shame is often expressed in terms of dirt. Likewise, the experience of being made clean is associated with renewal and new life.
Across the globe there are numerous sacred rivers and sacred water rituals which connect people, through washing, with their god(s). For some, this universalized reality is proof that there is no God, just something inherent to humans. For others, all the other acts are pagan and useless, Christian baptism is a unique event. I am somewhere in between. Obviously, Christian baptism has Jewish roots. John baptized Jesus after all. It also appears that many different kinds of people have an awareness of something wrong with themselves. There is also something inherent in people that washing is seen as a symbolic way of making things right. There is a sense in which we know being clean is a gift. Human beings wash for practical as well as religious or spiritual reasons. If you "look through" baptism you see there is a power (God) behind the activity which is also at work. I believe that God is behind all this. It is best understood in Christ (who alones washes away our sins). The efficacy of other religions is in God's hands to decide. Tomorrow we will look a bit more deeply into Christian baptism.