… ride the river

“I baptise you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:8)…

I was ‘playing away’ today… doing a pulpit swap with the Presbytery Clerk (who is a Reader). I was celebrating a baptism in the church where he is interim moderator and he was preaching in mine.

Celebrating a baptism (for only the second time this year) made me think again about the liturgies we use and the complex theology behind them.

Baptism is initiation. It is the outward symbol of our inner newness of life in Christ… of our becoming part of the eternal community of God’s people. It is a meeting of heaven and earth in one profound sacramental moment. And when the baptism is of an infant, it also speaks of all the potential that is wrapped up in one young life at the beginning of faith.

So in honour of this morning’s baptism…I thought I would post this snatch of liturgy from Hold this Space. It is from an interactive worship event which had water as an underpinning theme.

We baptise with water … Jesus with the Spirit. And this liturgy captures the dynamic power of water and (for me anyway) symbolises the roller coaster nature of life lived in the guiding power of God’s Spirit:

Water has the power to carve valleys out of mountains.
It has the force to shape the landscape of the world.
It’s terrifying and exhilarating, fierce and beautiful.

If we have the courage to ride this particular river
– to jump into this faith that we’ve talked about this week –
then at times it’s going to feel like we’re tumbling,
like we’re being pummelled and shaped;
like we are at the mercy of the water.

It can be a wild ride, an adventure
or it can feel like it’s dragging us under,
that we are no longer able to breathe.

So, if you need it, here’s a branch…

In this space – and in every moment – you have a choice:

grab the branch, pull yourself out of the river
climb to the side and get re-oriented;

grab the branch, take a breath,
launch back in and let the river take you where it will.

I liked the change of emphasis in the middle… from the wild flow of water to the option of calm. The idea of being able to grab on to a branch and to rest a while. This is so important… taking time out… drawing breath… resting in the stillness of God.

So at the beginning of another week on your particular roller coaster, I hope you manage some moments of calm in the heart of the chaos 🙂

(Picture is no1 son on the beach in Galle, Portugal.)

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