Sunday, January 10, 2010

A wet life...

Today I preached while standing in a kid’s swimming pool for Baptism of our Lord. I had originally planned to take off my shoes and Huck Finn-up my trouser legs to stand in ankle-deep water (complete with alb and chasuble), but cold weather and close proximity to live electrical outlets prevailed. Nevertheless, the pool was a good visual aid in getting us to think about living wet.

When I was a kid playing in the yard with a hose, or in a pool not unlike this one, my mom had a rule—“Mom does not get wet.” Now that my sister has kids of her own, she has the same rule, “Mom does not get wet.”

When Jesus gets baptized, he gets wet. He’s human enough to have Jordan River mud between his toes and droplets of water on his forehead.

Our bodies contain much water; some estimates suggest upwards of 80 percent. We need water to stay hydrated and healthy. We need to be wet.

The earth contains a finite amount of water molecules. No new ones are created; they just get recycled in the water cycle—evaporation, condensation, precipitation, etc. It’s fun to imagine the adventures that our water could have had.

However, as Christian people, our waters are storied waters (to borrow a phrase from Daniel Erlander). God enters our human story (incarnation; word made flesh; Christmas) and our human story becomes part of God’s story. We remember water stories: The ruach of God over the waters at creation. The cleansing waters of the flood. God leads the people to freedom from oppression as the waters of the Exodus part. Hagar drinks from the well. Naaman washes leprosy. On the cross, Jesus says “I thirst.”

Martin Luther suggested that when you wash, you remember your baptism. As we remember our baptism, we remember what God has done in our life. “Child of God, you are sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.” Our story changes; we are named and claimed as God’s beloved child. We are connected with a much greater story. We live a wet life.

Baptism is more than a one-time-deal. “Let’s take the kid to the pastor and get it done.” Baptism is a process. It’s a public recognition of what God has already been doing. God has loved you since before you were conceived and will keep loving you until long after you die. Baptism is a sign of God’s love.

Living a wet life is more than keeping your kidneys hydrated. It’s more than standing in a kiddie pool or taking a shower. It’s living a life shaped by God’s love. It’s being God’s child. It’s remembering your baptism. Stay wet.

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