Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
“Brothers and sisters: You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.”
A few weeks ago my wife and I went snorkeling for the first time. They gave us good quality gear and all the training we needed, and then it was our turn to get out of the boat and stick our heads underwater in order to see the fish, stingrays, and coral at the bottom of the ocean.
Even though we had breathing tubes connected to the surface so that we could still breathe with our faces underwater, it took a lot of practice to stay down for more than a few seconds. It was almost as if something deep within me was saying, “This is wrong, you’re going to drown” every time I put my face underwater and tried to breathe. I got used to it eventually, but I had to get over the primal instinct to stay above the water first!
In today’s reading, Paul tells us to get in the water! “You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.”
Have you ever witnessed a full-immersion baptism? I went to a baptism once at a Church that had a baptismal font so big that you had to climb stairs to get over the edge and into the baptismal water! It was amazing to see a friend of mine dressed in white taking a deep breath and then dunking completely under water three times. This is how the early Church celebrated all baptisms. These days this immersion is often symbolized by pouring the water on top of the head of the person being baptized, but it’s important to understand what full immersion means.
Baptism is actually a kind of scary thing. It is meant to be a symbol of dying; of descending under the earth into the grave (dunking) and then rising again (coming up). In baptism, we partake in the death of Jesus so that we can also partake in his resurrection. When we are immersed in baptism we die with Christ, and when we come back through the water we are raised to life with him.
We might not experience death on the cross the way Christ did, but he does give us grace to endure little deaths along the way. The Christian life always includes death of some kind. Maybe it’s a death to self, where you know you need to put somebody else’s needs before your own. It didn’t feel natural to keep my face underwater while snorkeling, and it sure doesn’t feel natural to constantly put my neighbor’s needs before my own. But with God’s grace, I die to myself - my own needs, wants, and desires - and put my neighbor first.
With God’s grace, we don’t need to be afraid of death. We have died to ourselves through Christ, and we share in his victory now, and forever.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
What is something you've had to do that took you some time to be ready for but eventually you were able to jump in and get under the water? How did God speak to you in that?
In what ways is God asking you to die to yourself, maybe to put up with some suffering, and to find him in that death by suffering with him?
This coming week, how can you allow others needs to be before your own?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"You are my savior."
"I find new life in you."
"Help me die to my self."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with the Lord bear fruit in you today?
This week, beginning today, make a pointed effort to die to yourself in little ways. Do something inconvenient to you to help someone else out, or sacrifice a little bit of sleep to help around the house. You could do something small like choosing to not get that extra helping of food or ordering the Starbucks drink you don't like as much, which nobody would see, but just to choose not to indulge every desire you have but to realize it's okay to sacrifice to grow in your relationship with God.
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Today's Prayer was prepared by Chris O'Hara, an evangelist in Canada.
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