Perhaps you have seen the article that was all over the internet on Wednesday about the Catholic priest in Arizona who was found to have changed one word while administering the sacrament of baptism to his congregants, rendering all of the baptisms he had done invalid in the eyes of the church. A cousin of mine posted the article on social media with a comment to the effect that she didn’t think the Lord would be terribly concerned about the validity of people’s baptisms over that one word, but that He probably was disappointed with folks over more theological reasons than just that. I thought that was quite astute, but in my irreverent way I answered her that Jesus was probably actually rolling his eyes and saying, “Oy vey!”
Without meaning any disrespect to the Catholic church or their holy sacraments, I agree that God/Spirit/Jesus/the Christ is most likely not only not concerned with the validity of those baptisms due to that one mistaken word uttered inadvertently by the priest, but in all probability is not terribly concerned with baptism at all. As Vicky explained in her sermon a few weeks ago, Jesus never touted or required or promoted baptism at all! His own earthly ministry did begin after he had been dunked by John the Baptist in the River Jordan, but baptism as a widespread practice did not really catch on in the Christian community until some time after Jesus’ death.
This is not to say that baptism is not a deeply meaningful spiritual ritual for many, but that its meaning lies in our own human interpretation of it, not in whether the words used render it valid or invalid in God or Jesus’ eyes. In Unity, we see baptism as an outward demonstration of an inner decision or commitment, or in the case of a baby as a way to bless a new child publicly, introduce them to their spiritual community, and dedicate them to the spiritual path. As Vicky explained, in Unity baptism is not to cleanse one from original sin. In fact, we have no concept of original sin in our Unity theology, but rather see all babies, indeed all beings, as original blessings. Rather than seeing human beings as inherently sinful, we affirm the innate goodness of all people. If God is Good, as our First Principle states, and if we are made in the image and likeness of God, then our nature is one of inherent goodness as well.
This is what we will be looking at this Sunday as we begin our second week of our series on the Five Basic Unity Principles. We will be exploring our nature as human beings, our divine essence, and our innate goodness. We will also be looking at our Way Shower, Jesus the Christ, and how his example of compassion and love calls us over and over to our highest and best version of ourselves---to live into our Christ Nature and our true identity as divine spiritual beings having a human experience. I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday!