We hear about places throughout our world where clean water is not accessible nor expected as a part of everyday life. But for the majority of you reading this blog, you likely take water for granted as you turn on the faucet every day to brush your teeth. Humans can not survive for more than three days in normal conditions without water. Plants can not grow without continual hydration. And so it makes sense that we take a ritual as important in faith as baptism and tie water to it.
The idea of being immersed in water as a form of ritual purification existed before Christ in Jewish tradition. But when Jesus was baptized by John in the river Jordan, the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove and the voice of God was heard saying "this is my son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:13–17; Mark 1:9–11; Luke 3:21–23). Later on, in the book of Acts, we hear the disciples say they are not aware of the difference between a baptism with water and a baptism with the Spirit (Acts 19:1-7). And it begs the question, are we?
If we are really honest with each other, baptism has become kind of a ritual in the church: a gathering of families to celebrate the beloved-ness of a baby in our lives. It is a way to bless a child's presence and a way to thank God for this gift. When older children or even adults get baptized, we see it as a profession of their faith. But if we are clear about what the book of Acts is telling us, baptism is more than either of those. Baptism is the presence of the Holy Spirit.
That's right, baptism is more,
Baptism is more, not because of how deeply we love, but how deeply God loves.
Baptism is more, not because of what we profess, but what God professes about us.
Baptism is more, not because of the power that we ritualize, but what the power of the Holy Spirit blesses.
Baptism is a way of God calling us beloved children. It is a way of God professing a constant grace, and that a power beyond us will guide us all the days of our lives.
Baptism, like so much of what God does, is a mystery. Baptism is a way of utilizing water, and this life giving, growing, goodness that it is. When we think of all that water does for us- we realize, this is how God expresses self. This is God's way of saying - look- through the Holy Spirit I can offer you the refreshment, renewal, restoration.
Through water and the Spirit we get new life!
Through water and the Spirit we get new chances!
Through water and the Spirit we get a new start!
And if we are honest with our need,
And vulnerable enough to be open to it,
We will find that...
...Water, and the Spirit, are essential for life.