Paul's Episcopal Church
Easter Vigil: 3/30/13
Three memories about water, from back when my daughter was about the age of Rosie Liu and I was pregnant with my son.
Forcing myself to drink water by the pool where my daughter was learning to swim. Do you know how unappetizing water is when you're sitting by the old pool in the Westbrook YMCA? But I had a doctor's appointment that afternoon and knew he'd ask.
Watching a little girl sob at the side of the pool shaking her head vehemently. She doesn't want to jump in for fear of sharks.
Later, in the community shower, the same little girl laughs with her friends as they pretend to play in the rain. Meanwhile, fully dressed moms try to get some soap on the kids without soaking themselves.
Water, taken for granted, so that it's almost a nuisance. Water as a source of fear and chaos. Salt water for tears. Water for fun, and for cleansing.
Three memories about water, heard tonight in the Vigil readings of our salvation history.
A righteous man named Noah is warned to build an ark for his family and pairs of animals to "weather" forty days of flood upon the earth. But then a glorious rainbow breaks through the rain to seal God's promise of reconciliation.
Oppressed slaves from Egypt follow a God-fearing leader named Moses who stretches forth his arms and the sea is parted, forming a wall of protection en route to freedom. But the oppressors get stuck in the mud.
During a time of national crisis and exile, a prophet named Ezekiel has a vision about a valley of dry bones.
Can those bones live?
Water as wrath and recompense. Water to free; water to trap. Parched, dry bones thirsting for life.
You might've learned in high school biology that more than half of the human body is made up of water. Look at the very beginning of human life through the wonder of modern ultra-sound and you see that the human fetus in utero looks remarkably like a tadpole swimming in a private pond. Pardon the pun, but we're awash in water all day long -- from brushing our teeth first thing in the morning to cooking dinner at night. While writing these words I got up twice: once to turn off the kettle for some tea I decided not to make, the other to get myself a glass of water.
Water makes us who we are and, through the waters of Baptism we celebrate tonight, it reminds us whose we are. For God chose to use the most basic element of water to initiate us into the glorious odyssey of the life, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus.
You can hear this in the passage from Romans just read, and in the baptismal prayers to follow. Hang on for dear life to every word of the prayer called "Thanksgiving over the Water" for it tells the great story of God's love for us and all creation, as shown through water. Take this story as your own, for it is. Drink it in. Remember it always. For among the baptismal promises made this night, we pledge to tell this story again and again to precious Emmy and precious Guy. It is now their story as well.
So in the years to come, they will know that as Jesus Christ was raised from the dead on Easter, so were they raised to new life by the grace of God, through water and the Holy Spirit.
Thanks be to God.