By JIM McDONALD
Baptism is a sacrament that John the Baptist performed for many and later baptized Jesus and this was firmly approved by God. Baptism is by water. Water is a component created by God. It is essential and useful in many applications. One interesting example is that fire must have fuel and heat to burn. Water (H2O) contains hydrogen, a highly flammable fuel, and oxygen. Logically, adding hydrogen and oxygen to an existing fire would excite it but when they are combined and applied to fire it is extinguished. The key/explanation is heat causes water to evaporate faster. Evaporation results in cooling. In this process the heat factor is reduced in fire and as a result it is extinguished.
Water is absolutely essential for us and for every living thing to survive and function. The first image in the Bible is of the Spirit of God hovering over dark, unformed waters in initial preparation for the creation of earth. Water is emphasized in many biblical passages and the book of Revelation tells of the river in heaven. Revelation closes in chapter 22, verse 17, with, “The Spirit and the Bride say, come! Let the one who hears say, Come! Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” It is interesting that water is emphasized in the beginning of the Bible and in the ending in Revelation.
I was baptized when I was 13 years old in our little Methodist Church in our small town in southeastern Ohio. The water used was from the Jorden River. I know this because it was stored in a jar under the pulpit. In my teen years I was the church janitor and when I came upon it there the first time I saw that it was cloudy so I diligently washed the jar and filled it with fresh, clean water. When this was discovered, I was informed and somewhat chastised. There was also an issue with flowers which I stumbled over. They were a dead bunch so I burned them in the burn barrel. It was vividly pointed out that they were shellacked for preservation and were from Africa and quite expensive. There were other issues from time to time but I digress.
Baptism is for all Christians. Some of us call it a Sacrament, others do not. In this perspective from Isaiah 55:10-13, it seems to me we all are included in this baptismal renewal in various ways.
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields a seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my Word that goes out from My mouth: it will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn bush will grow the juniper, and instead of the briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.”
Isaiah also declares in chapter 58 verse 11: “And the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.”
Consider the shortest chapter in the Bible, Psalms 117:
(1) Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol Him all you peoples.
(2) For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord.
We should do this.
Jim McDonald is a member of Wylie United Methodist Church and the Abilene Association of Congregations.