By Rob Lee
At the church I serve, I had the opportunity to participate in my first baptism as a Baptist minister. I was raised Methodist, so this was a new and awe-inspiring experience for me. In true mountain fashion we went down to the river, clothed in white and singing the hymns of our faith. I couldn’t help but think of the scene from O Brother, Where Art Thou? as Pete and Delmar were going down to the river to pray.
Baptism creates and restores us in ways that I never thought possible until I participated in my first baptism at the river. We were caught amidst the created world, breathing new life into the souls of Christ’s newest followers. We sought the presence of God in the water and I’m pretty confident we found it. People watched as their children, spouses, brothers and sisters were made new in the light of God.
Before the baptism one person commented to me, “Well, this is it.” I had to give a loving rebuttal and say that this was the beginning — a beginning of a strange yet wondrous journey towards fulfilling the destiny God has for them. How does that look for you? How are you working toward your destiny, toward completion of your calling in life?
Another scene from a movie came to mind as I was processing the events of this past Sunday. Every church-going person needs to watch A River Runs Through It at some point in his or her lifetime. There’s one line that goes a little like this: “Our lives are haunted by water.” As I challenged the people watching the baptisms to remember their own baptism, a mist came down from heaven in almost perfect timing. Our lives are haunted by our baptisms. Our lives are haunted by the reality that since that point we have never been the same.
Just like the heavens that were torn apart when Jesus was baptized, our lives are torn apart as well. When something is torn apart it’s never the same again; when the pastor offers the words that you are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit we are resurrected to new life.
So cherish your baptism, let your baptism haunt you. Let it be a constant reminder of your journey with the living and loving God. Let your baptism challenge you, inspire you, trouble you and give you joy. Wade in the water, children, for God’s gonna trouble the water.