Isn’t it fun and mysterious when different parts of our lives, or a community, come together spontaneously? That’s what happened yesterday for me.
I’m teaching a class at a sister seminary. After class yesterday I joined the community for chapel. Leading chapel was the teacher, and friend, from another class down the hall. The focus was on our gospel text for this past Sunday, one this class had preached on as part of a class project. Living in the text for three days prior, engaging in the transforming ministry of a congregation in Knoxville, TN, they had these three reflections on baptism:
1) Baptism can’t be tamed – It wasn’t a reverent ceremony in a picturesque chapel with all the focus on the newly baptized when John baptized Jesus. Rather is took place in the wilderness, amidst the “less-than” sparkling clean Jordan River amidst a crowd of people. Maybe the “clean” we talk about in baptism is not as we imagine it.
2) Jesus jumps into the mix and wades into the muddy waters of the Jordan. And as he does the heavens are torn open and he is identified as the Beloved, as God’s son. And when he steps out of the river, maybe he wasn’t sparkling white surrounded by angels, but covered in the silt and gunk of a well-traveled, well-used river.
3) Baptism should come with a warning – “Buckle your seatbelt. Get ready for the ride of your life.” Through the waters of baptism, we are invited into a wild ride, a grand adventure into God’s wonderful, messy, marvelous world where God’s kingdom is breaking in? What if the messiness of our lives combined with the promises of God is a crazy combination in which young and old, rich and poor, the faithful and the doubters all are invited to be agents of God’s love? What if, just like Jesus, we emerge out of the murky waters not sparkling clean, but empowered for a mission?
That’s the sermon I heard yesterday. And our class was in the midst of being reminded we are not objects of this world, at the mercy of a consumer-driven culture, but subjects of God’s unrelenting love. And we, God’s subject, in the waters of baptism are filled with the Holy Spirit and become agents of God’s love. We, like Jesus, are invited into the mucky areas, the messy parts of life, of our world.
Today we will open class with this powerful song, Dive, by Steven Curtis Chapman. The images and words remind me, remind us, to dive into this wild ride every day.