Baptism or Brutality?



I have slowly begun to pack a few boxes. While doing so I came across a collage of photographs stuck on a piece of cardboard. Reminding me of my first year in the ministry at Rustenburg Methodist Church in 1991. In one of the photos, I am holding a baby. A photo of my first baptism. I remember the date. It was on 20 January 1991. Four days after the US started Operation Desert Storm – Gulf War. I spoke of how the war was a betrayal of Baptism. Baptism being the bold pronouncement that all are beloved of God and members of God’s family. Those who choose war, do so because they have forgotten their baptism – the belovedness of all.

Today will be my last baptismal service at CMM. Once again, I will hold a baby and we will declare with boldness that this child is beloved, as is every child. And we will covenant as a community to live in such a way that this child and all children everywhere will grow up in the knowledge of their and each other’s belovedness. We do so in a context of a world at war in so many places, but especially in and around Gaza today. We do so with scenes of death etched on our eyes and the sounds of agonising grief in our ears.

Behind and before, my time in ministry has been hemmed in by baptism and brutality. In this we are invited to make a choice about how we will live life and organise life to what end. Baptism or brutality? Belovedness of all or only for some? All are chosen or only a special few? Freedom for all or only some? Life or death?

May we choose life,


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