Wednesday, December 01, 2004

symbols of life

We had another baptism on Sunday morning. It’s been our 7th in the last 3 months, our 4th in the last few weeks. The person being baptised, previously unchurched working class male, made his own shrine; symbols important to him – a dove, a roster, rose petals, an image of Jesus.

One of my increasing convictions over the last few years is that Christians have our symbols all wrong. I once turned up to an Easter Sunday service in a strange town. I thought it was a funeral. Such long faces. I wanted to yell, He’s alive.

But I was a visitor. Instead I listened to a meditation on death and sacrifice and pain. The church was trading on a death symbolic.

Yet Jesus was in the birth business and came that we might have life to the full. We need to trade in life images.

Stations of the Cross are quite popular among emerging churches. My worry is that they trade in the death symbolic.

And so around a baptism I anoint with oil and I get children to throw rose petals into the water. When the baptism is complete I crack open a bottle of sparkling and toast the first fruits of the Kingdom. For me, it’s a deliberate attempt to capture the life symbolic of Jesus ministry.

Posted by steve at 05:15 PM


  1. I really like you last paragraph Steve. LOverly idea.

    Comment by glen — December 1, 2004 @ 7:07 pm

  2. Need to trade in for life not death. Yes! Good reminders!

    Comment by Rich — December 2, 2004 @ 5:02 am

  3. i guess we need both. sometimes i haven’t experienced the living of Christ cos i haven’t been prepared to do any little bits of dying.

    Comment by tim — December 2, 2004 @ 9:22 am

  4. I think it is important to signify the new life we are given when we come to Christ, and it is a joyous thing. However, the symbol of the cross is a powerful one. It is true that it was once an image of death and humiliation, but it is now a symbol of life and hope. It was in his last breath on that cross, that Christ broke down the barriers separating us from God. I think that makes it an amazing symbol of our new life.

    Just my 2 cents…

    Comment by Jordan — December 2, 2004 @ 12:39 pm

  5. Totally agree. You know, a wise elder in my old church used to make funny faces on the sly when he was on the platform. His wife caught him and asked why he did it. He said, “You know, church is supposed to be a happy place – and looking out on you all, you all look far too serious and sad.”

    Comment by Jon L — December 2, 2004 @ 2:49 pm

  6. Death Symbolic is my favourite album. Why not trade in it?

    Comment by john — May 12, 2005 @ 2:52 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.