From the June 2013 issue
Polluting our baptismal waters
The biblical and theological importance of caring for the world’s waters
At my church each Sunday, after the confession is read, there is silence as a child of the congregation walks forward, lifts the baptismal pitcher, and splashes the waters into the font. Hearing and seeing this water reminds us of God’s grace sealed in the sacrament of baptism. In this water, God’s Spirit lives and seeps into our human selves, like water through cracks in the ground, restoring us for the work of building up the body of Christ.
The sound and sight of the font also evoke the elemental nature of water: without water, we could not physically live.
The waters in the font and the waters of the earth (fresh and salt) are connected. We daily need spiritual and physical thirst quenched, and God—who creates, redeems, and sustains all of life—offers both. The waters of the world—its rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans—and the waters of baptism are each a gift from God and have a powerful daily impact on our lives.
While the impact of the water we drink and use to cook and bathe may be more apparent most days, the waters of baptism are more than mere symbols: they change us. They are a sign and seal of God’s abundant grace. Baptism represents but also carries the transformation, cleansing, and liberation made real by Christ. Through baptismal waters, we are claimed, called, and challenged by God. We are welcomed as part of the faith community by the church. In the waters of baptism, we tactile humans feel God’s grace through the Holy Spirit and offer a thankful response back to our Maker.Continue reading
Water access for all
Presbyterian partners around the globe provide a theological response to water privatization and shortage.
That classic Bruce Lee quote has made the rounds for years. Search for it on YouTube and you’ll see it has thousands of hits. But the deceptively simple message can obscure an essential truth—about water’s elemental importance to both humanity and the earth. From covering 71 percent of the earth’s surface to composing as much as 75 percent of the human body, water constitutes the basis of life itself. Be water, my friend.Continue reading
Beachfront higher education
At Eckerd College, water is where students learn and serve . . . and have fun.
Recently, a parent of a prospective student posed a not unreasonable, and not unheard of, question: “How do you get any work done around here? It’s just so beautiful.” But the truth is, for the students of Eckerd College, beauty and work simply go hand in hand.Continue reading
Lessons from Cuba
Mission partnerships knit us together in ways unforeseen. Going on a mission trip—meeting people face to face who live in circumstances different from our own—can be transforming. I know, because it has happened to me.Continue reading
The service of baptism
Is there a typical Presbyterian baptismal service? These results, from a recent survey of a representative sample of PC(USA) congregations, suggest that the answer is “yes, but . . .”
NEW THIRD EDITION. Presbyterians Today’s special issue and guidebook — “Welcome to the Presbyterian Church!” — is a wonderful introduction and overview of all things Presbyterian.