The earth was without shape or form, it was dark over the deep sea, and God’s wind swept over the waters —
Become aware of the Spirit of God,
Present to the deep, dark waters,
Hovering over the chaos that is life,
Poised to do something good
But now, says the Lord— the one who created you, Jacob, the one who formed you, Israel: Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; when through the rivers, they won’t sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you won’t be scorched and flame won’t burn you.
Today is known as Baptism of our Lord Sunday. We remember the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. And in many churches, Christians are invited to remember their own baptisms today.
We think about the gift of fresh, clean water – invigorating, healing, cleansing, soothing. But we know water also has a darker side – it can be ominous and destructive.
The prophet Isaiah's words hint at the dangerous power of water faced by the Jewish exiles on their journey home, "When you pass through the waters and rivers..." God says, "Do not fear, I will be with you. The water won't sweep over you."
This is God's promise to the people of Israel. It is also God's promise to you and me, created and formed by the Spirit, baptized into God's family.
On days when it feels like we're treading choppy water, the waves lapping under our chins, threatening to overtake us, God says: I will be with you... The water won't overtake you. Remember your baptism and breathe in that promise today.
When I feel like I'm drowning in stress or fear or despair or boredom, your voice calls out to me:
"Do not fear. I am with you. The waters won't overtake you."
I hold on to you and to this promise, made tangible in my baptism.
Go now, confident in the faithful presence of God, leading you and guiding you this day.