Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Symbol of Baptism: the Descending Dove
It was a close vote, but the Descending Dove edged out the sea shell as our favorite symbol of baptism (maybe we can use both since its so close a vote).
Here's a little more info on the symbolism of the Dove. The Dove of course not only is a symbol of baptism, but in Christianity a symbol of the Holy Spirit and in all religions is a symbol of peace.
Doves mate for life, are incredibly loyal to each other and work together to build their nest and raise their young. Because they tend to nest in areas that humans can watch, people picked up quickly on the idea that doves were dedicated, honorable and peaceful. While hawks and other birds of prey would violently attack their neighbors, the dove was a bird of peace, eating seeds, easily trained to eat out of the hand or to become domesticated. Beginning with the Egyptians, the dove was as symbol of quiet innocence. The Chinese felt the dove was a symbol of peace and long life. To early Greeks and Romans, doves represented love and devotion, and care for a family. The dove was the sacred animal of Aphrodite and Venus, the goddesses of love and friendship. The dove also symbolized the peaceful soul for many cultures.
All four Gospel accounts refer to the baptism of Jesus by John at the Jordan river (Matthew 3:16;Mark 1:10;Luke 3:22;John 1:32). The Luke account says “And the Holy Spirit came down in a bodily shape, like a dove on Him.” Because the Holy Spirit is just that—spirit—He is not visible to us. This occasion, however, was a real visible appearance, and was doubtless seen by the people. The dove is an emblem of purity and harmlessness (Matthew 10:16), and the form of the dove was assumed on this occasion to signify that the Spirit with which Jesus would be endowed would be one of purity and innocence.