Walking Wet

Part 2 of St. James’ Summer Worship Series: Bath

Baptism – Walking Wet

8/1, 2010

Mark 1:4-11

Today, we’re talking about a bath – baptism.

When we leave here today, I’d like us to be walking wet….

I want us to be walking drenched, soaked,

sopping, dripping wet….

and I’m not just talking about our need for rain!

It’s not my idea.

It’s Martin Luther’s.

According to Luther, we need to  “walk wet” every day;

it’s how we live a life immersed in the promises given to us in baptism.

The promises of baptism are enormous.

Consider these for a start…

In baptism we are given:

forgiveness of sins –

baptism is a bath – a cleansing from sin

a new identity as children of God –

we are marked with the cross of Christ forever

a community- –

we become part of the family of the church

eternal life –

true healing takes place as we are restored to right relationship with God

Every day, Luther says, we are to “walk wet,”

showered in these promises of baptism.

Karen Bockelman tells a story in Lutheran Woman Today

about walking along Schoolhouse Beach in Wisconsin.[i]

She was struck by the sight of the beach

which was covered by smooth, round, white stones.

They had been washed, rolled, and tumbled

for who knows how many years

by the waters  of Lake Michigan.

It reminded her of her own life immersed in water – in the water of baptism,

so she thought she might take a stone home in remembrance…

Until of course a friend pointed out the sign which said,

“Do not remove stones from the beach. Fine $25.”

She realized that by leaving the stone behind, she had a deeper metaphor.

The stones needed to stay in and by the water,

ever-shaped by the waves.

Just as she needs to stay in and by the waters of baptism,

ever- shaped by the  promises God has given her.

That is walking wet.

Staying in and by the waters of baptism.

In our gospel reading today,

Mark describes Jesus’ baptism in 3 short verses.

When Jesus is baptized by John at the Jordan River,

the heavens are torn apart and the Spirit descends upon him.

A voice says, “You are my Son, the beloved;

with you I am well pleased.”

I’d like us to focus on the fact that the heavens are torn apart.

As biblical scholar Mark Allan Powell notes,[ii]

in the Bible, “the heavens” usually refers

to the place where God lives.

The heavens opened for example in our Old Testament reading from Genesis,

when God sends rain to the earth.

The heavens are torn apart at Jesus’ baptism, meaning that

the barrier between God and humanity  is ripped apart.

As Powell says, Mark’s gospel tells us of a God

who invades our space,

a God who is no longer confined,

but loose in the world of people.[iii]

Every time a someone is baptized,

we are reminded that the barrier between God and humanity

is no longer there;

the heavens have been torn apart,

and the Spirit has descended;

God has come down to earth.

Last night the heavens were torn apart

and the Spirit came down as Emilia Kate was baptized.

Emilia now is walking wet.

As she grows in years, if she thinks she is separated from God

by feelings of guilt or shame,

she can remember that God

removed that obstacle through her baptism.

If she thinks she is separated from God by her fears or sadness,

she can know with confidence that God

removed that obstacle through her baptism.

If she thinks she is separated from God by her jealousies or greed,

she can have the assurance that God

removed that obstacle through her baptism.

That is walking wet –

living a confident life,

knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

Let us leave here walking wet –

drenched, soaked,

sopping, dripping wet –

washed in the waters of baptism.

(And we pray for rain too!)  Amen.

[i] Karen Bockelman in “Living Water, Walking Wet” Bible Study from Lutheran Woman Today, July/August, 2008.

[ii] Mark Allan Powell in Loving Jesus, Augsburg Fortress, 2004, p 91.

[iii] Powell, p 95.


One thought on “Walking Wet

  1. We could call classes for preparing for baptism “Walking Wet with Pastor Jeanette”! Doesn’t that have a nice ring to it? I do like the font foto!

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