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The Water of Baptism

Bill at the JordanYesterday was Baptism Sunday, so I have been thinking about how the water of baptism should color our lives. Perhaps we should start using a permanent dye so we can never forget God’s claim on our lives. I wonder if dye would make us feel differently about ourselves and lead us to act differently toward one another.

If, like Jesus, you were to be baptized in the Jordan River right now you might not get stained, but you would get pretty muddy. When Bill and I visited the Holy Land recently, we collected water from the Jordan for Water Communion Sunday. The river is unusually muddy because of the terrible drought that region has been suffering.

Most people are surprised by how small and shallow the Jordan is. I knew those things from my studies. What stunned me, though, was, as we turned off the road, our guide explained that if the bus broke down or had a flat we were to stay onboard. On either side of this very narrow road leading to this holy spot where Jesus was said to have been baptized is the kind of barren wilderness into which Jesus was driven after he was baptized to be tempted for 40 days and 40 nights.

What the guide was warning us about, however, was that, on both sides of the road, the desert had been mined by decades of war between the Israelis and the Arabs. Today, to get to the place of Jesus’ baptism, one literally must pass through a minefield of death, hatred, violence, and war.

This seems to be a parable about what happens when humankind fails to realize what it means to live as the Beloved of God or to have sufficient grace to believe that others are beloved, too.

Blessings,

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Rev. Michael Piazza

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