First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.
God spoke: “Light!” And light appeared. God saw that light was good and separated light from dark. God named the light Day, he named the dark Night. It was evening, it was morning—Day One. Genesis 1:1-5 MSG
First there was nothing, just a watery chaos…and darkness, total absence of light. Then God’s voice thundered over the emptiness and there was “light” and “light” was good. Everything changed when God spoke, when Light entered the darkness.
There still wasn’t anything except the watery abyss…and light and darkness. Then God separated it with “Sky.” There was water above and water below, water everywhere, nothing but water.
Our world is 70% covered with water. Our bodies are 60% water. Our world as we know it can’t survive without liquid H2O. If you don’t believe it go on a water fast and see how you feel without taking in any of that colorless, odorless, nourishment. You will begin to act very strange and without it you will die. The same thing happens to the soil if it doesn’t receive water in the form or rain or snow. Without water seeds can’t germinate, plants will not grow or last long without water.
Water also creates change. Enough of it all at once has the power to create drastic changes to the environment. Just look at the pictures of what the Missouri River did where it went out of it banks this summer.
Isn’t it interesting that God began creation with water. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus’ ministry began after he had been baptized in the Jordan River. Isn’t it interesting that our lives begin with us surrounded by water in the form of amniotic fluid.
…before our birth, we float in amniotic fluid, which provides temperature stability, cushioning, and a necessary presence within collapsed airways to help stimulate lung development. Amniotic fluid is a clear, watery fluid that is filtered out of the maternal via the amniotic epithelium into the amniotic cavity. A large portion stems also from the fetus itself (from the skin, the umbilical cord, the lungs and the kidneys). The makeup of the amniotic fluid is thus quite complex, with many maternal and fetal constituents. The main constituents are water and electrolytes (99%) together with glucose, lipids from the fetal lungs, proteins with bactericide properties and flaked-off fetal epithelium cells. Its quantity changes over the course of the pregnancy (20 ml in the 7th week, 600 ml in the 25th week, 1000 ml in the 30th to 34th week and 800 ml at birth). From the 5th month the fetus also begins to drink amniotic fluid (400 ml/day). Close to the end of the pregnancy the amniotic fluid is replaced all 3 hours, stressing the importance of this exchange between the amniotic fluid and the maternal compartment.
Now we can understand how very important, and necessary, water is to our survival. And that is why the sacrament of baptism uses water as a symbol, a symbol of life, a symbol of change, a dying and rising again to new life, a cleansing, a cleansing from our sinful lives to being changed … from the inside out when we are baptized with the Holy Spirit.
People change when they are baptized with the Holy Spirit. It may or may not happen when they are baptized with water. But when it happens they’re changed from the inside out. Jesus was different after he was baptized. God confirmed that He was indeed His Son.
When people receive the Holy Spirit God confirms that we are His sons and daughters and we’re changed. We’re different than we were before. And as we mature we continue to change as we learn to wait upon God and His Spirit, as we learn to let the Spirit correct, control, and guide us.
Think back 5 years. Are you the same as you were then? I don’t think you are. I know I’m not. Physically as we age our bodies change but I’ve also noticed that my spirit, my soul, has changed over the years. I know I’m not the same person I was 5 years ago and I imagine you aren’t either.
It’s inevitable that things, and we, change. And there’s more change coming for us. Who knows what 2012 will bring us? One thing is certain. One thing won’t change. God will continue to be there for us. He will continue to provide for our world and us. He will continue to love us, to heal us, to teach us, to guide us home. He is the one Constant, reliable Force when all around us everything is changing.
Today we are going to reaffirm our baptismal covenant with God. Together we will be reminded of that day when we made the decision to be baptized or someone made that decision for us. And ever since that day we have been changing, and with God’s grace we will continue to change.
Thanks be to God for his unchanging grace. Amen.