The rain on the OBX has given us a one-day reprieve as we read again about the saving of Noah’s family from the flood. I haven’t seen the surface of my street for days and I am beginning to envy the passengers on the Ark. They didn’t get their feet wet everyday. But did you ever stop to think about the many times we are not only saved FROM water, but saved BY water?
Our United Methodist baptism liturgy has this beautiful section:
When nothing existed but chaos,
you swept across the dark waters
and brought forth light.
In the days of Noah
you saved those on the ark through water.
After the flood you set in the clouds a rainbow.
When you saw your people as slaves in Egypt,
you led them to freedom through the sea.
Their children you brought through the Jordan
to the land which you promised
In the fullness of time you sent Jesus,
nurtured in the water of a womb.
He was baptized by John and anointed by your Spirit.
He called his disciples
to share in the baptism of his death and resurrection
and to make disciples of all nations.
In our lectionary passage today, we see echos of “saved by water” in 1 Peter 3:
1 Peter 3 (Contemporary English Version)
Christ died once for our sins.
An innocent person died
for those who are guilty.
Christ did this
to bring you to God,
when his body
was put to death
and his spirit
was made alive.
19 Christ then preached to the spirits that were being kept in prison. 20 They had disobeyed God while Noah was building the boat, but God had been patient with them. Eight people went into that boat and were brought safely through the flood.
It is understood that the imprisoned spirits referred to are demons. Note that God’s patience extends even to them.
21 Those flood waters were like baptism that now saves you. But baptism is more than just washing your body. It means turning to God with a clear conscience, because Jesus Christ was raised from death. 22 Christ is now in heaven, where he sits at the right side of God. All angels, authorities, and powers are under his control.
Baptism is indeed more than just washing your body. It means your conscience is washed clean through the shed blood of the atonement. It means that your heart is made ready through the confession of sins and the clean slate offered to you by the Redeemer. It means you are welcomed home by the God of second chances.
Christ did all this to bring you to God. Today you are invited to wash again, turn to God, and bask in the waters of salvation and hope.