Pentecost +6 – Year A
While appreciating plays of concepts on several different levels, this passage is particularly dense. Issues of death and resurrection, baptism and sin weave and interweave until it may sound as if the only bottom-line available is that we are baptized into death rather than into resurrection and that sin needs to die rather than be baptized and resurrected.
Consider Hagar whose vision of a well may be her equivalent of baptism and how it leads to life in a new land or an entering into a new country of unexpected grace (using some of Eugene Peterson's imagery). Consider the disciples invited to live so openly and beyond their tribal past that the derision of the cross would become inevitable for them.
Certainly there are those who arrive at this position and understand that their beginning spot was focusing on their sin in order to do it in, to overcome it, to reduce it to naught. Their driver is death of sin. Baptism comes as a flood of grace.
Certainly there are those who arrive at this position and understand that their beginning spot was focusing on new life where none seemed possible - to revision the world, to undergird it, to bring forth new relationships. Their driver is resurrection past the sin of others. Baptism comes as a crack of grace in a cosmic egg (reference to an interesting book by Joseph Chilton Pearce).
Do we need to set sister against sister against brother against parent against all others to chose one of these? Will the "end of death-as-the-end" have to play itself out once again as Christianity comes to another opportunity for definition?
So what do we do in the midst of such language that seems lawyerly enough open more loopholes than it closes?