Yesterday, March 20, 2011, we baptized a baby girl, J*. Traditionalists (a title I have personally never claimed) argue that Lent is no time for a Baptism. It’s a season in which Christians are to walk through the desert, a place with no water and no redemption. Baptism, they argue, is best saved following the journey through the liturgical, parched desert of Lent, and can be best celebrated during an Easter Vigil, the day before Easter Sunday. But what do we do on the days when God interrupts Lent and breaks through with Easter redemption? What about those who, for too long, have been walking through the real, parched landscape of life and can’t wait for the supposed “appropriate liturgical date” to experience the waters of Baptism?
Two years ago, March 20, 2009, baby J*s family was in the unspeakable desert, beyond the reaches of Lent--baby J*s aunt was brutally murdered. The family will always breathe parched desert air, remembering, questioning and mourning the loss of their precious child, sister, mother.
But 8 months ago, a baby was born in the desert. This child was named J*, after the aunt she would never meet. As they breathed the desert air, the Spirit breathed on them, giving them new life and the strength to say NO to evil, and the power of death, and YES to new life in Christ.
On March 20, 2011, in the desert of life, and in the desert of Lent, on the anniversary of that unspeakable event, baby J* was brought forth and immersed in the waters of grace and new life. The breath of life, that continues to be with them in the desert, was poured out in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so baby J* may experience new life in Christ. And, for an eternal moment, Easter interrupts Lent.
Baptism doesn't erase the pain of murder. It doesn't bring back to life a child of God who was stolen from her family. Baptism allows us to hold in tension the joys and sorrows of life. It brings forth new and eternal life for baby J*. It tells the devil to go back to hell. It speaks faith—CHRIST has the last word. CHRIST has power over death. Sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever, baby J* will now go forth living her own, precious, one of a kind life. The Spirit will breathe upon her, as she walks through her own deserts of life, showering her with an oasis of redemption.