Scripture: Genesis 1:1-5; Isaiah 43:1-7; Mark 1:1-11
At the beginning of every year, the church celebrates the Baptism of the Lord. We celebrate and remember, as we read in Mark 1, John the Baptist baptizing Christ with water and the Holy Spirit descending upon Christ in the form of a dove, baptizing him in grace saying, “you are my son, the beloved, in whom I am well pleased.” Different denominations may understand baptism differently but almost all of Christianity recognizes and practices baptism. For us in the United Methodist Church baptism is a sacrament, an avenue and channel of God’s grace. Unlike communion which is a repeatable sacrament, baptism is an irrepeatable sacrament because of how it connects to God’s grace. In baptism, we acknowledge and recognize the grace of God that has been with us since our entry into this world and will be with us when we transition into eternity as well. At its core, a Untied Methodist understanding of baptism is less connected to our profession than a recognition of what God has done for us. Which is why we baptize babies and why we have confirmation for people to confirm their faith. We do not rebaptize because to do that in a United Methodist understanding of baptism, would imply that God’s grace had somehow left that person, which even though we may at times feel lost and alone, God’s grace never leaves us. However, while baptism for us is a one time sacrament, we can use water to help remind us of and renew us in God’s grace. Whether you have been baptized or not, water is a powerful image for renewal, restoration, cleansing, and what grace does for us. The force of water in nature carves mountains and shapes entire landscapes. The force of the waters of grace help shape the landscape of our lives. The waters of Grace guide us in ways of health, healing, wholeness, and abundance, which is good news because sometimes the landscape of our lives could use a little reshaping.
In the beginning, the spirit of God hovered over the primordial waters of the deep and started to create, separating waters and land, bringing forth animals, plants, and people, and God called all of it good. The landscape of our lives was designed for fulfillment, healthy connection, and life. But, over time, other things carve paths and shape our lives too. Addictions, depression, anxiety, fear. Unhealthy self-talk. Reactivity and reacting towards certain people, friends, family members, in anger, frustration, envy, or jealousy. Things done to you, harm and trauma even decades old. All consuming grief or loss. Busyness, overwork, avoidance, all manner of things can erode and change our landscape. Whatever it is for you, whatever unhealthy pattern, routine, or tendency, whatever has shaped your life in less than life-giving ways, God offers us a balm, restoration. God invites us to wade in the waters of grace.
Wade in the water, know that you were formed, made, and created for glory.
Wade in the water, believe that you are precious to God, honored and beloved.
Wade in the water, feel that no fire or flame can burn or consume you because you are not alone.
Wade in the water, and hear God call you by name. You are redeemed, precious, honored, beloved, and made for abundant life.
Wade in the water and do not be afraid. If the things you’re dealing with or need to work through feel like too much that’s ok. If the thought of change or doing things differently feels intimidating, impossible, or overwhelming, that’s ok. Even small changes can be hard. You were not meant to do it all on your own. Let grace, God’s love for you, God’s forgiveness, renewal, redemption, wash over you, buoy you, and support you.
Wade in the water, through prayer and scripture and bible study and being a part of worship and a faith community.
Wade in the water, by sharing your story, seeking help, forming an accountability group, by getting a friend to make a change with you, by seeing a therapist, or taking medication.
Wade in the water, it is there waiting for you, and always will be.
Jesus called out to the crowds, ““Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, 38 and let the one who believes in me drink…” And to a Samaritan woman at a well he said, “Jesus said to her, “…those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”
At the start of this new year, wade in the water of God’s grace and discover how God wants to offer you abundant life.