Saved by Water

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:

Eternal Father:
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.

Come to the Water by Kathy Schumacher

Through Thick and Thin

I have never been embarrassed about my profession as an ordained clergyperson, but to be perfectly honest, there are times when I don’t need or want the scrutiny that it brings. Times when I just want to be a mom or wife without the thousands of questions that come when people find out what I do for a living.

Many years ago, my husband and I went on a cruise with our best friends. We had a great time and loved hanging out with them. They were members of my church, but never treated me differently because I was their pastor.

We got stuck on the ship for a day due to a storm, and the cruise directors quickly came up with things to do onboard to pass the time. They announced that we would be invited to play a “What’s My Line” type of game in the main theater. Contestants with hard-to-guess occupations were solicited, and our friends immediately suggested that I should try out for it.

They took me to the theater to “audition,” and sure enough, I became a contestant. My friend was sure I would win the big prize. You can probably guess the rest: I went on stage, the “expert panel” asked me a series of questions (the audience had already been informed that I was a minister) and after deliberating for a few minutes, they made their best educated guess:

“Are you a Massage Therapist?”

Yep, I won the big prize. A deck of cruise line playing cards.

1 Peter reminds us to never be reluctant to speak up and tell people why we love and serve Jesus:

1 Peter 3 (The Message)

13-18 If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.

Being a Christian puts you under a lot of scrutiny these days. People will ridicule and reject you for your beliefs. Through thick and thin, we are reminded to keep our hearts at attention and respond with the utmost courtesy about why we live the way we live. Jesus went through everything just so that we might be brought to God. We should always be ready to tell that to others.

19-22 He went and proclaimed God’s salvation to earlier generations who ended up in the prison of judgment because they wouldn’t listen. You know, even though God waited patiently all the days that Noah built his ship, only a few were saved then, eight to be exact—saved from the water by the water. The waters of baptism do that for you, not by washing away dirt from your skin but by presenting you through Jesus’ resurrection before God with a clear conscience.

Our job, then, is to live our lives out loud, with a clear conscience and a full understanding that what we say, and more importantly DO, might bring others to Christ…or not.

Jesus has the last word on everything and everyone, from angels to armies. He’s standing right alongside God, and what he says goes.

Home for Dinner By Michelle Robertson