From Rev. Pat Kriss: The Watershed Moment
(Posted January 13, 2018)
After the storms of the past couple of weeks my car has become somewhat of a rolling mudball from all of the road grit and salt used to treat the roads. Probably because I’m acutely aware that it needs to take a trip to the car wash soon, over the past few days while driving to the church I started to notice other cars and their relative state of dirtiness. Virtually none of them were immaculately clean, save one or two I saw while waiting at the stoplight. They’d already been through the wash. All else wore a veil, thin or thick, of debris that testified to weary trips through storms along the way.
The road grime became kind of an equalizer among us all. People who drove new status-y cars like Mercedes and Lexuses were the same ashen hue as the older model Dodges and Toyotas they share the road with.
When I got to the office and read this Sunday’s gospel, the one from Mark where Jesus voluntarily comes to the Jordan River to be baptized among all the other people lined up there, it occurred to me that the moment certainly was, in terms of faith, a “watershed moment,” a turning point in the history of humankind. And in terms of traveling life’s highways, the people assembled there with Jesus were, spiritually, veiled in various layers of grit from the road and eager to be washed clean of their sins. Yet Jesus, already free of sin, voluntarily stood with them to be immersed in the Jordan. Why? Certainly it was in part because by doing so he was making a statement about choosing to be as equal and as human as the rest of us. But also he did so because the act of baptism is more than a cleansing alone. The waters of Baptism are a “sealing in” of the mark of faith. A “simonizing,” if you will, that affixes our spiritual identities and helps us cast off the future muddy spray from the road that lies ahead.
This Sunday we will be baptizing an infant boy into our covenant and our church. His head will be dampened by the waters from a bowl that every person has been christened over in this church since 1753. Some of us may wonder what sins we are possibly washing away in a little one who hasn’t even “hit the road” yet. But, again, Baptism is more than a cleansing. It is a polishing of our identity. It is a fortification against future challenges in life that is made by the promises that his parents, godparents and we as a covenanted congregation make to God and to him. It is our commitment to him, and a reminder of that time we emerged from the waters, new people. I hope you will join us this Sunday for the Baptism and on this Communion Sunday, when we remember our own baptism and receive the nourishment that Jesus established as food for the road. --- Pastor Pat Kriss