We have five Sundays in January for this Year of our Lord 2017, and after Epiphany (always January 6th) we observe the annual commemoration called Baptism of Our Lord Sunday that falls this year on Sunday January 8th. Although Jesus did not need baptism, because he was and is without sin, he nevertheless received baptism in order to properly fulfill all possible requirements of righteousness and religious faith. And as I contemplate the baptism of Jesus, I am led by the Spirit to contemplate the sacredness of water and our own baptismal covenant in, with and through Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.
For Christians water is sacred…
Firstly, water (H2O) is the basic molecule of physical life. Without water, life as we know it cannot exist. The surface of the Earth is two-thirds water, and the average adult human being is made up of approximately 57-60% water. This is why clean water ranks as the number one necessity for human life. Certainly it is true that there is disagreement about the causes of global warming: natural vs. man-made, or mostly natural vs. mostly man-made, and so on. However, when it comes to clean water for our streams, creeks, rivers, lakes and seas, almost everyone on all sides of the environmental debate agrees that we need these water sources to be clean and healthy. Moreover, domestic drinking water from municipal water services needs to be clean and free of lead and other toxins. Like the air we breathe, clean water for all is a basic human necessity, period.
Secondly, water is the most basic substance that signifies everlasting spiritual life. The New Testament of Christ is clear about the role of clean water in connection with God’s Holy Word of salvation:
ROMANS 6: 3-5
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
TITUS 3: 4-8a
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This saying is sure.
MATTHEW 28: 19-20
[Jesus said,] “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Thanks be to God for our salvation in Christ Jesus! Because of our baptism into Christ our Lord, we are saved, redeemed, and marked with the Cross of Christ forever. Through water connected with the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit, God spiritually washed us clean and grafted us into Christ and into his Body (the Church). And whenever we respond to and abide in the grace of Christ’s baptismal covenant with us, we become born again from above to have renewal of life and to more fully live our lives as children of God. Baptized into Christ, the life of Jesus becomes our life, the death of Jesus becomes our death to sin, and the resurrection of Jesus becomes our resurrection to live as the Body of Christ in our world today.
Happy New Year!