Water is Never Lost

by Rev. Chris Jorgensen
March 20, 2022

Video of entire service: https://www.facebook.com/hanscomparkchurch/videos/505970041097722

Scripture: Luke 3:15-16,19-21

photo of hands under running water

I’m so glad you are all here today to celebrate Brooklynne’s baptism. What a wonderful way to welcome a new member of the family of God and recall the promises of baptism!

How many of you were baptized here at Hanscom Park church? Raise your hand if you were baptized here at this church – even if it was at the previous building. Folks online, why don’t you just type in the comments where you were baptized?

Okay, so raise your hand if you were baptized in Nebraska. How about Iowa? Other states? I was baptized in Wisconsin. How about other countries? Pastor Peter? We talked about this before, right? Pastor Peter was baptized in Trinity United Methodist Church in Naivasha, Kenya. 

I found out where our incoming pastor that Donna just announced was baptized. (Remember, she will start on July 1st – I’m not gone yet!) Our incoming pastor, Rev. Stefanie Hayes, was baptized at Custer Road UMC in Plano, Texas. She was 23 years old. That’s interesting, right?! 

I know there are some people among us who were also baptized as adults. Is that true for anyone here?

Just a word about Pastor Stefanie. She’s amazing. She is smart and bold. She’s outgoing and passionate about her love of God and God’s people. She’s super nice – she’s way nicer than me. AND! She’s totally cool with me coming back to help with Pastor Peter and Leah’s wedding which will be on August 20th, by the way. Mark your calendars…everyone is invited! I am just so happy and excited for you and for Pastor Stefanie. I know we will miss each other like crazy, but if can’t be me, I literally can’t think of anyone else who would be a better pastor for this church at this time. Thanks be to God. 

Okay, so back to baptism. I want to share a story that’s only tangentially related to the topic, but I can’t help myself because the theme for the week is water, and well, this is a pretty great water story I heard this week.

I want to start this story by saying that our church member Marcia Jensen is just fine. She’s here in church today, and she is unharmed. But nobody told me that this Tuesday when our Office Manager Cindy Keiser asked to me, “Did you hear that Marcia Jensen fell into the Nile River?” I was like, “What?! Is she okay???” Turns out she was okay and had just had a mishap disembarking from a boat on her recent trip to Egypt. There was this narrow plank that she tipped off of, and there were people there to help her. 

I got to see with my own eyes that she was okay when she showed up at the Grow Group on Tuesday and told me, “Pastor Chris, I was baptized in the Nile!” To which another group member chimed in, “You were in De Nile!” and another “How did you get out of De Nile?”

I will let you ask Marcia that part of the story, but I thank her for letting me tell the falling in part. I’m just excited that now I know someone who fell into the Nile River!

While that’s a bit of a random connection, it is also true that our sisters, brothers, and siblings in Egypt and Sudan are sometimes baptized in the Nile. We are connected to the people and the water there…7,000 miles and an ocean and a continent away.

We also had water from the Jordan River in our baptism today (thanks to Great Aunt Cindy, sister of Grandma Diana, who passed along that water from Great-Great Aunt Jessie so that we could baptize Brooklynne). The Jordan is the river in which Jesus was baptized, in the Holy Land, also around 7,000 miles away from here. 

Interestingly, the story of Jesus’ baptism we heard today in The Gospel of Luke downplays the role of John the Baptist. It downplays the individual baptizing. In fact, Luke conveniently removes him from the story by mentioning he was thrown in jail by King Herod before Luke even mentions Jesus’ baptism. Where the other gospels say, “John baptized Jesus in the Jordan,” Luke says, “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too.” 

Rather than emphasizing John’s role, Luke emphasizes the connection, practically a parity between Jesus’ baptism and the baptisms of all the people. Luke’s retelling seems to highlight that we share in Jesus’ baptism, and we are connected to all who have been baptized. We are connected by the waters of baptism.

We are also literally all connected by water. I’m sure you know that there is water in our bodies. Does anyone know how much? A percentage? 60-70% of our bodies are water. That’s shocking to me. I didn’t realize it was that much.

We also know that life only exists because of water. Water is what astronomers look for on other planets to determine whether life could develop there or maybe once happened there. But as far as we know yet, the Earth is unique. Only we have water, and so only we have life. 

The water on Earth is so interesting. I remember first learning about the water cycle in a science class. It blew my mind to be told that water never really disappears, it just moves somewhere else in the cycle. Hear description of the water cycle from the Utah Education Network:

“Nature has a way of keeping the amount of water on the earth relatively constant. A large amount of water evaporates from the surfaces of oceans, rivers, and lakes every day. It forms water vapor that rises into the air until it cools, condenses, and forms water droplets. Millions of these droplets come together to form clouds. When clouds get heavy enough, gravity tugs on the droplets, and the clouds release their water as rain or snow. This precipitation falls into streams and rivers, which flow back to the oceans, seas, and lakes, where the water cycle can begin again.” [From: https://www.uen.org/themepark/cycles/water.shtml]

This is the part that blew my mind: All of the water that is on the earth has always been here. Earth never gets water added to it–nor does water disappear from the earth. Water is constantly recycled in a process known as the hydrologic or water cycle.”

Wherever, whenever we were baptized, those of us who will be baptized in the future, that water used in that baptism is never lost. It exists, and it is all connected. It will evaporate into a cloud someday to be rained down again only God knows where. The cycle will go on.

Through our connection with Christ in baptism, we are never lost.

There are some stories from my time as your pastor I want to share with you before your new pastor gets here. This is one of them. I want to warn you this is a hard story. It’s story about a baby who died. If that’s too much for you right now, it’s okay with me if you step away. Do whatever you need to take care of yourself. I am sharing it though, because even in this hard story, I believe there is hope.

A few years ago, well before the pandemic, I was called by a church member to go and pray with some of her friends in the hospital. Immediately, I said “Yes, of course. Absolutely.” She told me that these friends had a baby, just a few months old, who was on life support. So I went without really knowing much about the situation.

I met the baby’s Grandma in the hallway. She was around my age. She explained what was going on, she cried and answered my questions when I asked how she was doing. I just tried to be present for her.

When I walked in the room, there was a young man sitting on the bed with the baby. He was so young. I remember thinking he looked barely older than my teenage daughter. I assumed he was a brother. He was the baby’s dad. He glanced up at me and then back at the baby. I’m not even sure he said hello when his mom introduced me to him. It was okay. He was in grief, and some people don’t really want pastors around in these situations. I figured I was there for Grandma, and that was fine.

I stayed for a few minutes with them. Dad made room for me to see the baby, stroke his head. He was beautiful. I told them how sorry I was they were going through this. I can’t remember anything else I said. There was nothing to say.

I carefully asked if there was anything else I could do for them. The last thing I want to do is force prayer on a grieving parent. But I did ask, would it be helpful if I prayed? Dad looked at me in the eyes for the first time. He said, “Would you baptize him?”

I said, “Yes.”

A nurse helped me gather a plastic cup and a towel.

I baptized that little baby in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God who is Mother of us all.

The water of our tears was part of the baptism that day.

The baby was taken off life support the next day and died shortly after.

Water is never lost. We are never lost. That child, all our loved ones who go on into God’s presence before us, are never lost. We are connected in the waters of the Jordan, the water of the font, the water of our tears.

Baptism is a sacrament. It is a physical manifestation of the promise that is made to us, by God, even before we receive the water. That baby did not need my blessing or my presence to be received into God’s arms. Baptism is simply a reminder of a promise that God has already made to all of us.

It is a promise that like water, we are never lost. No one, not one drop, not one person is ever lost. Our spirits are one with God and one with each other, and we will go on. Maybe not in these present bodies, maybe not in this present form, but through the gracious love of God, we live.

Thanks be to God.

Amen.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1) Where, when, and how were you baptized? Share any details you remember or know of: who was there? What did you wear? If you have seen pictures of your baptism, what did you learn from the pictures? [If you haven’t been baptized, feel free to share about a baptism you have witnessed or your questions you have about baptism.]

2) What is one important and meaningful memory (besides baptism) you have that involves water?

3) Traditionally baptism signifies the following: union with Jesus Christ, incorporation into the church, new birth (death and resurrection with Christ), forgiveness of sin, and reception of the Holy Spirit. When you think of baptism, which of these mean the most to you? Why? 

Copyright © 2022 | My Music Band by Catch Themes