The Second Week of Lent
Wet and cold and unforgettable
No matter your tradition, the liturgy and imagery of baptism is rich and wonderful. Whether you are wading out into a stream, walking down into a pool, or brought as a child to a small bowl of water, the words and images are rich and powerful. It is as though the room is filled with an unseen host. There is joy on earth and in heaven. Someone has been marked with the sign of grace immeasurable. Someone has been tied forever to the promise of God.
I don’t know what the angels see. We see water. It is only water. The water in our font is filled with water from the tap in the sacristy. That water comes from a reservoir, somewhere, that has been filled with rainwater and melted snow. Fish live in the reservoir; birds feed along its banks; boaters go out upon it and fisherman cast in their lines. Does it generate electricity as it flows down the pipes towards our water system? I don’t know. It could. It should. Technicians are watching, I trust, that the water is pure enough to drink. I do my dishes in this water and make my coffee with it. I brush my teeth and take my shower. The water in the font is only water. How does it become a holy and life-transforming water? Because a holy and life-transforming word is added to it.
It’s not that we have wrapped Bible verses around the water. It’s not that we have prayed a prayer that recalls the ways (shown to us in Scripture) that God has used water to save. The Word that is added is more profound. It is the living and active Word that is like rain on a mown field. It is the living and active voice of God, recorded for us in scripture, but speaking anew to forgive and save. The Word that says “I have called you by name, you are mine.” The Word that says, “I am the Good Shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” The Word that says, “I came that [you] may have life, and have it abundantly.” The Word that says “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
God has attached his promise to this water, making what is invisible visible. Making the intangible tangible. Making the Word wet and cold and unforgettable.
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11)
in the waters of baptism you grant us great and eternal promises.
Keep us this day in your word of grace and life
that we may walk in gratefulness and joy.
– A prayer for the second week of Lent
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Photo: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AFulmer_Falls_Top_1_3264px.jpg By Photo by and (c)2006 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man) (Self-photographed) [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons