Sunday, April 1, 2018

On Easter, and Baptism, and Internal Conflict

Today is Resurrection Sunday...the day all of Christianity celebrates that our Messiah was raised out of the tomb, and lives again.  Here, at our new church, and also at other churches we have attended, there is the additional excitement of people declaring their decision to follow Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism. 

This day always holds a lot of conflict for me. 

First, the name.  The Western world's fixation on Easter, and the images immediately conjured up of bunnies, and brightly colored eggs, and candy, and families dressed in their finest Spring attire has bothered me for a LONG time.  I am celebrating what, exactly?  I know what *I* am celebrating, and it has NOTHING to do with bunnies, candies, eggs, and new clothes.  Whatever the origins of the name given to the day, I prefer to call it Resurrection Day, as THAT is what I am celebrating. 

Second, baptism.  The Sacrament of Baptism is a beautiful, meaningful way to say to the world, "look, I am a new person...THIS is what Jesus' death and resurrection did for me.  I am turning control of my life over to Him." 

Finally, internal conflict. This is where things get messy.  I cringe every time baptism is brought up, and happens in a new congregation...because of MY baggage around this sacrament.  See, I have been baptized 3 times.  The first time, I was an infant, and it was not a choice I made, but rather one made by my parents.  The second time, I was 13 years old, and was following the proscribed way of joining the church...yes, it WAS my choice, and I HAD made the decision to follow Christ, and to turn over control of my life to Him.  The third time is the one I have a LOT of angst around, as I still feel like it was forced on me...I was NOT happy about it, I was NOT making a new decision, it was NOT a new signal of my decision to turn my life around.  No.  None of that.  Rather, it was a church that decided that the MANNER in which I was baptized at age 13 was not the "correct" method, and in order to be part of that congregation I had to be baptized their way.

I have tried to talk about this, and people seemingly don't understand my conflict.  There is nothing about my part of that service that makes me happy.  I feel like I was forced into a corner, and that how I was expected to act was wrong.  Forcing someone to be baptized conjures up images of the forced conversions to Roman Catholicism...not of a mother being backed into a corner in the 2000s. 

And that is where my conflict lies.  I love the relationship available to me through Jesus' death and resurrection, which we have set aside this day to celebrate.  I value my opportunity to declare to the world that I am a new person. 

I do NOT value being forced into doing something I think is unnecessary, and pressured to act like I am happy about it. 

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