A quick note: I wrote this post on Monday, and then we have had some rain yesterday and this morning. It’s not a lot, but I think it’s coming up from the storm systems that are ravaging south Texas and bringing massive flooding. Water can kill and heal, and it’s what happens in our baptism. Our sinful self is drowned and dies, and a new creation comes forth. We get to practice this baptismal renewal every day. As Martin Luther wrote in the Small Catechism:
What does such baptizing with water indicate?
It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
Where is this written?
St. Paul writes in Romans chapter six: “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Rom. 6:4)
We’re in a drought here in North Texas. It’s not terrible (yet), but we haven’t had much rain this year. Lawns are turning brown (or getting really expensive to keep green), and I really don’t envy the farmers. Last week, we had a farmer’s market specifically for W.I.C. participants held by the area food bank in our parking lot, and the farmer who brought the produce wasn’t able to bring as much as last year. The lack of rain makes it tough to grow things.
Scripture ties in a lot of drought and flood references for us as metaphors for the Christian life. And to top it off, baptism is the ultimate flood of God’s blessings, washing us clean and bringing us into the family of God! From Noah to crossing the Red Sea to Jesus being baptized in the Jordan River, we see water and washing come up again and again in Scripture. It’s no accident.
Sometimes the droughts in our faith life come from the outside – circumstances hit hard, and what little reserves you have are depleted. I see it in friends who are caught between caring for young children at home and aging parents who live too far away. I see it with families who have had illness drop like a bomb into their midst, obliterating any sense of normalcy and destroying the health of the diagnosed individual and the caregivers in its wake. I see it when natural disasters sweep through neighborhoods and leave folks homeless and hurting. I see it when someone dies unexpectedly, shocking a family and rocking a community.
Sometimes the droughts come from our own choices, too. We miss church one week, because Saturday night was a late night and it’s too hard to get up the next morning. The next week, one of the kids is sick and we stay home. The next thing you know, two months have gone by without so much as a hint of worship with the body of Christ. Or maybe you do really well with making it to church regularly – not every week, but at least twice a month. But once you leave the parking lot on Sunday, you’re focused on your preparations for Monday morning, running to the store and packing lunches and finishing laundry. Then the week begins and you oversleep, so forget about spending time in the Word. All week long you’re running behind, trying to catch up and the first thing to go has to be time with Jesus. You might pray with your family the one night you have dinner together, just before the meal with a quick “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest…” but that’s the extent of head bowing.
All of these things leave us parched, thirsty for the Word and all the blessings that God shares through it. We are bone-dry, desperate for refreshment. As a pastor friend of mine wrote on Facebook, “some days I feel more wet from the sweat of working the day than from the waters from the font.” Thanks be to God that it’s not about us! No matter our choices, or the circumstances that are out of our control, the water is there for us, an ever-present reminder that we are God’s children, brought into the family through the water and renewed every morning. Whether or not we feel like it, we are “walking wet” from our baptism. Our droughts are temporary, and remind us of our constant need for God’s presence in our daily walk. Even the worst disasters are temporary in the light of eternity, when all drought will be washed away forever.