Monday, August 15, 2011

In the May - August 2008 issue of Homily Service, Brent Laytham offers preachers some inspiration to help them connect Paul's call to "present your bodies as a living sacrifice" with the sacrament of Baptism.

We are so prone to think we can offer ourselves to God in a spiritual form that lets us do what we want with our bodies.

Baptism is one way we present our bodies as a living sacrifice. It’s no accident that this sacrament of initiation, this doorway into a lifelong response to the mercies of Go, is an act that claims the whole body. I saw a baptism this week that illustrates the point. It was what many pastors would consider an infant baptism gone horribly awry. The child began to squirm the moment his mother handed him to the pastor, and then began to howl the moment the water was poured over his head. As I watched the pastor struggling - both to keep from dropping the child on his head and to keep his pastoral composure - it occurred to me that here was a vision of a body being offered to God, and not just a body but also a whole life. These parents were turning this child over to God for a lifelong transformation by the renewing of his mind. But it all began, rightly, when the church received that body as a living sacrifice.

In what ways do members of your community seek to "reserve" the sacrifice of their bodies to the demands of the Gospel?

The lifestyle currently enjoyed by members of western industrialized nations requires a different "sacrifice" of bodies: the sacrifice of the bodies of people in developing nations upon the altar of our comfort and plenty. How are christians called to address this other, more problematic sacrifice?

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