Wednesday, August 02, 2017

baptismal words: indigenous and creation based

On Sunday, I was asked to participate in a baptismal service at a local Presbyterian student congregation. In preparing, I wanted to ensure baptism was rooted in a Biblical frame. I wanted to honour the bi-cultural relationships of which the Presbyterian church in New Zealand is a part. I also wanted to connect baptism with creation, given the importance of creation as a mark of mission in the church.

I was encouraged in this direction by a conversation in January with a Maori colleague, who noted the importance of water in Maori culture, and how the old people always reminded him that from an indigenous theological perspective were are all children of the sea. He offered a Maori proverb:

Tangaroa whakamautai, nga tamariki o te Moana nui a Kiwa.

He then linked the proverb with an Old Testament Scripture, from Genesis 6, of the Noah story. This is very astute. Rupert of Deutz, an 11th century theologian, wrote of “how familiarly and how frequently the Holy Spirit was revered even before the coming of Christ, mostly with respect to water” (Rogers, The Holy Spirit: Classic and Contemporary Readings, 178).

water-body-macro-shot-1388772 The conversation got me thinking about the importance of water in the Bible and in baptism. So I pondered scriptures in which there is a connection between water and God – and how they might help us understand baptism. Anyhow, here is what resulted …

In Baptism, we connect ourselves with God,
Let us understand baptism
By immersing ourselves in the stories of God and water from the Christian Scripture

We are children birthed from the waters of creation
All: Spirit hovered to order the chaos.
Our very existence coming from God

We are children from Noah
All: Spirit in a dove offering new life
Our wellbeing and purpose deeply connected to relationship with God

We are children of the Red Sea Exodus
All: Waters opened in liberation, Past washed away

We are children of the Jordan River,
All: Waters opened in promise of plenty.
Walking into resurrection life in Christ

We are children of the Jordan of Jesus baptism
All: Hearing we are children beloved
in whom God is well pleased

We are children of the stormy seas
All: Calmed by God’s presence
Sealed by God’s Spirit

We are children of the Rivers of Revelation
All: Ever deepening waters of abundant life
Immersed into God’s healing family

Today, xx are coming to be baptised. They are acknowledging God’s love and demonstrating their desire to be in relationship with God. They are aware of their need for God’s grace and forgiveness.

Tangaroa whakamautai,
nga tamariki o te Moana nui a Kiwa

All: We are children of the waters

They are saying they choose to orient their lives towards God. They are signifying their openness to God’s Holy Spirit. They’re expressing their desire to be faithful members of God’s church.

Tangaroa whakamautai,
nga tamariki o te Moana nui a Kiwa

All: We are children of the waters

And we, their friends and family and local church community are glad to witness. Many of us are reminded of our own baptisms and our desire and commitment to live and grow as followers of Christ. We come to offer our support today, and every day, as xxx continue to grow into the people God has created and enables them to be.

Tangaroa whakamautai,
nga tamariki o te Moana nui a Kiwa

All: We are children of the waters

Posted by steve at 09:19 PM

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