Believe it or not, this is a true baptismal story. During a baptism in a large Protestant church, one of the older ladies steps into the water font. She kneels down into the large pool of water. The pastor asks her if she is ready to believe in Christ. She nods yes and the pastor immerses her into the water three times, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. But as she rises from the waters of baptism all washed and freed of sin, she flings her hands to her head only to realize that she lost her wig. The pastor picks it up like some drowned rat and hands it to her as she steps out of the water. The congregation sings about two-dozen hymns before she’d come out to meet the congregation.
Be careful- divinity will surprise us!
It all begins in the River Jordan…in the water the Holy Spirit descends and the Great Voice From Heaven speaks. There in the water God becomes human to show us how to be divine.
Baptism means “immersion.” Whether the priest pours water over our heads or plunges us into the font, the Church immerses us into the waters of baptism. In the words of Benedictine Sister Verna Holyhead, do not say, we were baptized but say we are baptized. It means to light up the world and rid it of blindness, every single day. In the words of the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus went around doing good…and that is the whole meaning of baptism~ going around and doing good day after day!
So, on the last day of Christmastide- be careful, divinity will surprise us! How? In Chapter Four of his Rule, on the “Instruments of Good Works,” St. Benedict writes sixty-one ways to be Divine. For our discussion today, maybe we can learn a few from St. Peter in ACTS: include everyone, proclaim peace, do good, and heal someone! And if we really want to be divine, do it all without fanfare. Anytime Jesus encounters fanfare he always slips away to a deserted place to pray.
The celebration of the Eucharist is our divine food for the journey. Here God washes us, anoints us and feeds us. It all begins with water. So, be careful- like sprayed water in a chapel, divinity tends to surprise!
A Homily for the Baptism of the Lord