Baptism/Naming: My Theology - Joy Powell - 6 Jan 02 : LUSENET : Experience into Words : One Thread

We humans find ourselves in community from the moment we enter this world. One might say we are part of community while in our mothers womb. At birth and for many years to follow we are at our most vunerable, our survival is dependent on others. The taking over of the birthing process by the medical profession while necessary has cut us off in some ways from the realization of the vunerability and utter dependance of new humans. The medical staff in hospitals has replaced the community atmosphere in which people were born in the past so we are almost unaware of our need for each other outside the hospital environment.

Picture for a monent a child's first moments not yet seperated from its mother but in the world of bright lights, people and things: he finds herself/himself to be out of the comfort of the darkness of the womb and in the world of brightness and blinding light.

If all things are right in the world, the child's first encounter of the world of community is the mother and father ably assisted by another community interconnected with them, the hospital staff. If this new family are fortunate they will almost immediately want to share their joy at the miracle of life with extended community of grandparents relatives and friends. The naming of their child becomes a normal part of the conversations almost the first thing people ask is the question What will you call him/her?

What then are we doing when we name a child? Well I believe we are participating in God's creation of this new being. We are continuing a process already begun by God in the bringing to birth of a new being. Those who name the child are usually the parents and godparents who take responsibility for the continuing nurturing and development of this child until he or she can fend for themself. When we bring a child for baptism then we are inviting a community to witness and share in the development of this child. The waters of baptism are symbolic of life-giving waters -- remember the nurturing of the waters of the mothers womb have sustained this being for nine months.

We are all aware of the saying 'No man is an island'. We cannot live our lives in isolation, so we tend to join communities which share our value system . We hope that, while guiding this child through the minefield of life, he or she will grow with values that have become timeless: justice, peace, love, charity, kindness. Life is not just about self-sufficiency but rather about a self that is sufficiently connected to other people who are also suffient selves. These values offer a child a Way to follow in a world where she/he will have to make decisions someday. The Way can be difficult and challenging, values are needed if we are to remain sane. When confusion strikes it is to the old established values that we have learned in family and community to which we return.

-- Anonymous, January 06, 2002

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