Water. A simple substance. 2 atoms of Hydrogen and 1 atom of Oxygen. Absolutely necessary for our body to survive. We can survive longer without food than we ever could without water. Life giving substance not only for humans but for all creation. And the vehicle by which God offers us renewing grace. Cleansing grace. Fresh start grace. Child claiming grace.
Do you happen to remember your baptism if you have ever been baptized? If you grew up United Methodist like me (or Lutheran or Presbyterian or Episcopal) the answer is probably no because we baptize infants. I’ll talk about why that is this Sunday at worship. But we do have an option for those of us who don’t have that memory. We have a beautiful service of remembering your baptism. A chance to remember the promises that were made for us or by us if we were youth or adults. It’s one of my favorite Sunday’s of the year and I can’t wait for this Sunday.
One of my most precious memories was when we did this at Centenary for the first time 3 years ago and one of the older ladies came through my line to touch the water, receive a shell and a blessing. She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said in 80 years she had never participated in a service like this before and how powerful it was to reconnect with something so important that happened in her childhood. A life well lived as a faithful child of God, marked by the grace of baptism, reignited in her heart again. That’s the stuff that makes us pastors act like a cat high on catnip!
Remembering the faith of our childhood might be a beautiful thing for some. A terrible or painful memory for others. Or increasingly a non-existent one for others. But when we remember our baptism, we are not remembering what we have done. We are not even remembering what the church has done. We are remembering what God has done on our behalf. It is a gift of grace that lays claim to us and says we are a Child of God. It is a grace given to us that says we are offered a life with Christ and a death and resurrection with Christ. It is a grace that acknowledges God has the power to forgive us and renew and wash us from the sin and evil in this world. And finally, it is a grace that is given with the touch of hands and an offering of the Holy Spirit to enter into our lives each and every day.
Almighty God, the life you birthed in us
by baptism into Jesus Christ
will never die.
Your justice never fails.
Your mercy is everlasting.
Your healing river flows.
Your Spirit blows where you will.
We cannot stop you, God!
But sometimes we try.
We try to block the flow,
we redirect the winds of the Spirit,
or we walk so far away from the life-giving Stream
that we do not hear its sound,
and we forget its power.
We parch ourselves.
We are dry and thirsty, O God.
Come, refresh us!
Come upon us, Holy Spirit! Come upon these waters. Let these waters be to us drops of your mercy.
Let these waters remind us of your righteousness and justice.
Let these waters renew in us the resurrection power of Jesus.
Let these waters make us long for your coming reign.
Amen. (United Methodist Baptismal Liturgy)
Water. It cleanses. It refreshes. It sustains. It’s powerful. It’s calming. It is one of the ways in which God offers you grace. I invite you to join us Sunday and let the grace filled waters of Jesus once again renew your spirit, cleanse your soul, give you new life.
Grace and Peace,