from Isaiah 42:1-9
The little boy and girl were as close to heaven as they were to the earth. Jessica and Jerome: fraternal and inseparable twins they were. At age seven, they looked at the world through double lenses of reality and fantasy. It didn’t take much in their eyes to turn a play house into a castle or a tree with low hanging branches into an attacking dragon, and behind the castle, a puddle of mud into a swimming pool.
They each took turns cannonballing into the mud and the muck. She first noticed that you could turn it into a slip and slide if you ran first. He figured out that you could ball up the mud and throw it (even at her). They were in the ecstatic giggles and youthful joy when mother’s voice called them to dinner. “Lord have mercy, how did you two get so dirty? You both will have to have a bath before dinner.”
That’s when the buts showed up. “But mom, we don’t want to.” “But mom, do we have to?” “But mom, we look alright to each other.” And in a tone that warned her that teenage years were approaching far too quickly, “Mother!”
And we understand these feelings all too well in our spiritual journey. As Christians we see the word through double lenses. We see the world as it is. We see the racism that persists in our nation from generation to generation. We weep at the funerals of police officers that have been ambushed while striving to serve and protect. The greedy horde while the poor starve. Nations are shutting doors to immigrants and refugees in irrational fears based on the same nationalism and prejudice that fueled the Nazi party almost 100 years ago. The world seems to be playing its own version of Hunger games and we are all in the arena.
But as Christians, we also see the world as God believes it could and should be. Love that sees difference of culture and skin tone not as a bad thing but as an a reflection of God’s own diverse love and color. Righteous anger at those who abuse power, manipulate crowds with fear, and use tragedy as a means to fuel their own agendas. Compassion for moms and dads who just want a safe place from war, rape, and unrest for their children to grow up and have it better than they did.
And in all of this God asks us to take a bath. Our Lord invites us to awaken within our baptismal waters and be transformed by them. Jesus wants us to be changed by his Grace, to be transformed in his Compassion, to use these waters shared with us as a gift. God invites us to be more than a people who worship in wishes? God invites us to be love in action. God calls us to raise our voice for the voiceless, give our strength to the weak, and lift up those who have been pushed down.
And that’s when the buts show up. “But God, we don’t want to.” “But God, do we have to?” “But God, we look alright to each other.” And in a tone that warns of our tendency to rebellion, “Father!”
Isaiah preaching to the people about the Messiah speaks of who God is. “He will bring justice to the nations.” Our Savior brings peace and wholeness to the world. “He won’t cry out or shout.” Our Lord doesn’t call attention to himself. God doesn’t have an ego or need all eyes on him. “He won’t break a bruised reed; he won’t extinguish a faint wick, but he will surely bring justice.” He won’t brush aside those who are bruised and hurt. The smallest and most insignificant light is still precious in his eyes. The weak will be made strong, the poor will be rich: this is God’s Kingdom, a revolution through spiritual practice.
Isaiah, preaching, gives a word from God about who we are. God is an all-powerful God who has chosen to share that power with us. “I, the Lord, have called you for a good reason… I’m giving you as a promise to the people, as a light to the nations.” The Lord who created the heavens, the one who stretched the sky from east to west and north to south, the one who breathed life into your lips wants you to be the change. God calls us to be the life in this world of death. God calls us to be the hope in this despair. God calls us to be the new beginning in the end of endings.
We are the folks who have taken a bath. Jessica and Jerome didn’t want to take a bath. So their mother gave them a different option. A little liquid soap up into water balloons, a two water guns, and mom with the hose and bath time was no longer a chore but had become a transformed moment of joy, love, and memory.
We are the folks who have taken a bath. We’ve been given a gift in our baptismal waters. We are God’s promise to the nations. We are God’s lights of joy, love, and testimony. As we remember our Baptism today, let’s not just be wishful worshippers. Let’s be the changed, the transformed, the renewed, those who have been washed in God’s love. Amen.