As most of you probably know by now, I do not approach theology in the most conventional ways. Some of you may be shocked to know that one of my favorite all time shows is Sex and the City. While some readers may not agree with all of the content, the show has given me the chance to realize I’m not alone in my singlehood.
While I am delighted by each episode of the series, one of the most theologically thought-provoking episodes of the series was the season five episode “Unoriginal Sin.”
Miranda is having a tough time agreeing to have her son baptized. Her son’s father, Steve, wants to have Baby Brady baptized for a few different reasons: so the baby doesn’t go to hell/limbo, so the baby has a party and to make his mom happy. Most likely an agnostic, Miranda decides to go ahead with the baptism.
At the same time, Carrie is going through a faith and hope crisis of her own. She begins to write her column with the following:
“That night, I started to think about belief. Maybe it’s not even advisable to be an optimist after the age of 30. Maybe pessimism is something we have to start applying daily… like moisturizer. Otherwise, how do you bounce back when reality batters your belief system and love does not, as promised, conquer all? Is hope a drug we need to go off of, or is it keeping us alive? What’s the harm in believing?”
So there Carrie, holding the child at the baptismal font as Baby Brady’s godmother. As the water drips from the baby’s head onto Carrie’s arm, she thinks to herself “I couldn’t help but hope the water would wash away some of my original cynicism.” To Carrie, this sacrament might not have been explicitly about God or forgiveness, but it may have opened rebirth, grace and hope for her. Maybe the water will renew her spirit and wash away the cynicism from her heart.
This episode has my eyes to see baptism beyond the normal outward sign of God’s grace. Baptism has the potential to do the following:
- Brings people together
- Gives people comfort about the spiritual security of their loved one
- Reminds people of rebirth, grace and hope
- Allows us the opportunity to welcome another child of God into the Body of Christ
- Keeps the doors open to the sacred side of tradition
I think there are many reasons people go through with baptism, and this episode reflects upon that. But the beautiful thing is how baptism impacts the entire body of Christ, not just the baby (or adult being baptized). Each person in attendance is affected by being in the presence of a baptism.
How are each of us changed when we see another person baptized? What does baptism mean to you?