Come to the Water. . .

It was a thirsty kind of day.
After three weeks of deadlines and commitments,
the last one was in sight as I backed my car out of our driveway.
I was tired yesterday morning, and nervous.
A speaking/teaching engagement loomed after worship,
at another church in town,
one whose pulse I do not know.
And I am decidedly rusty — no public speaking in over two years now.

I was due to bring cookies for the Coffee Hour today,
and those had been baked and frozen earlier in the week.

Adult Sunday School was starting up again,
and my husband surprised me by wanting to go —
a class with a literary emphasis,
looking at poetry and prose from classic and contemporary writers,
pondering together how their words might be helpful to a life of faith.

So I schlepped my usual too-much-stuff, ready for each separate event of the day:
the cookies, a bag with printed handouts and
suggested books on the topic I’d been invited to teach about,
a cup of hot tea to sip in the Sunday school class,
a tired body and a very thirsty spirit.

The class was rich and good, the teaching excellent,
the conversation lively.
And then I walked into the worship center and I knew:

All that was thirsty in me would be satisfied, satiated, slaked.

The font was front and center, down from its usual place
at the top of the chancel steps,
and the water it contained danced in the sunlight.
A glance at the bulletin showed the baptism of Jesus in Luke’s gospel
as the sermon text for the morning,
and the music . . .
Oh.My. . . the music.

Two of my favorites as we began, setting the tone for the entire
morning of worship.

“Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.
Have mercy on us. (Alleluia) Have mercy on us. (Alleluia). Have mercy on us.

Glory be to the Father. Amen.
Glory be to the Son. Amen.
Glory be to the Spirit. Amen.”

“All who are thirsty, all who are weak, come to the fountain.
Dip your heart in the stream of life.
Let the pain and the sorrow be wash’d away
in the waves of his mercy as deep cries out to deep.
(And we sing) Come, Lord Jesus, come.” 

Listening again to that wonderful text,
those powerful words of affirmation and commission,
given from Father to Son on the banks of the Jordan River
so many centuries ago, it felt as though they were
bouncing around our sun-strewn sanctuary,
newly offered to each one of us.
“You are mine.
You are loved.
You are pleasing to me.” 

And then the invitation —

“COME TO THE WATER — it is here for you.”

And we came.
By the dozens, we came streaming down the aisles,
as the music swirled around us, singing of amazing grace and glorious freedom.

On this second Sunday of the new year, we were given the rich gift
of renewing our baptismal vows,
together,
in worship.
Our pastors read them for us,
we responded firmly with, “We do!”
And then we walked to the front,
to the font,
and we got wet.

Swishing our hands through the cool, clear water,
a finger or a fist,
making the sign of the cross or not,
touching the hand of another coming into the water
from a different direction,
we did this together.
We remembered who we are,
We remembered where we belong,
And we marked ourselves once again with the Water of Life.

Which was exactly what this weary woman needed today.

The speaking/teaching thing went . . . well, it went.
And it was all right. It wasn’t perfect, but it was all right.
And then on my way back home,
I stopped for just a few minutes,
and I came to the water one more time
before heading up the hill.
I came to the primordial waters this time,
the ones that call my name and speak to me of the
immensity of our God.
I sat and stared,
I said, “Thank you!”
I shut my eyes and breathed deeply.

And I went home feeling loved and no longer thirsty.

I have not yet figured out how to embed videos into WordPress. But I have managed to get a link or two here! If you click on this link, you will hear our opening song, as sung by the worship team at Westmont College, which is just up the street from our church. I think our worship director helped arrange the strings that are added to this beautiful rendition. Click on over and then, leave the music playing as you browse the internet. It’s a lovely piece, taken directly from the liturgy of the Catholic mass.
And this is a short, a cappella version of the second song of the morning.

“All Who Are Thirsty”

 

Joining this tonight with Michelle, Jen, Ann and Laura.


 

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Comments

  1. Oh Diana, renewing your baptismal vows by actually swirling your hand in the water again? What a beautiful and sacred thing. And to think that you bookended your very full to bursting day by visiting the water again….that sounds like the perfect way to bring it all together. I am so very glad that you were no longer thirsty.

  2. Music often helps me come to The Water. Thanks for sharing these two beautiful pieces and your story of quenched thirst.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

  3. What a wonderful service! I kept thinking we were going to at least renew our vows in unison yesterday, but we didn’t. Still, it was my favorite cantor, which makes all the music that much more beautiful.

    • It was a wonderful service, from start to finish. I love doing this at the start of a new year and it is one of my favorite services of the whole year. And a great cantor makes a huge difference in a sung liturgy, doesn’t it?

  4. “A speaking/teaching engagement loomed…” Loomed. That says it all, doesn’t it? Interesting how these opportunities have their own personalities. I’m finding, here on sabbatical with H, that church often seems to be one of those things for me that looms. It will be interesting to see if that feeling morphs into invitation anywhere along the way…

    I’m listening to “Glory Be” right now. Thank you for introducing me to this song. It’s beautiful! And this renewal of the baptism vows? Made me cry. You know I have to ask: Is this renewal of the baptism vows a regular practice, or was it a unique experience for you, too?

    • We’ve done it every year for the last three and I love it. It fits into epiphany as that’s generally when the texts about the baptism of Jesus show up on the rotation, usually the 1st or 2nd Sunday of the New Year. And I can imagine that church is ‘looming’ for you just now, at the very beginning of this break. Let’s hope it isn’t still looming come April. :>)

    • I’m not sure how I missed replying to you, but it sure looks as if I have! And yes, I get that church is looming while you’re away from it for a while. It gobbles up your entire life when you’re in full-time, professional ministry. And sometimes you need it NOT to do that. So enjoy this break – hopefully it will be long enough for the desire for church to loom larger than the looming bit. :>)

  5. Oh, Diana, I love this so much. What is it about water? The being washed clean, restored. Even from the demands of everyday living. I want to swish my hands in the water every week at church! I’m going to be thinking about this one for a while. Thanks.

    • Thanks for clicking over, Micha. If our font had water in it every week, I’d probably swish away every Sunday, too. I love this practice that much – it’s such a great tactile reminder of what it’s all about.

  6. You sound like I felt like before Christmas – rushed, hurried, trying desperately to fit in everything that needs to be done, frantic… I don’t like feeling like that. And I’m hoping, for your sake, that all of the things that are jam-packed onto your plate at the moment find some order and rhythm that allows you some space to breathe!
    Well done on getting through your first speaking engagement in so long – you did it! The next one will no doubt be a little easier 🙂
    Thinking of you and yours often xoxo

    • I don’t like feeling like that, either, Donna. And I still do and likely will for some time to come. I had just gotten into the groove of this ‘new’ lifestyle and LOVE it. Now there is too much on my plate and I don’t like it one bit. This, too, shall pass and I will survive. I just may be a little grumpy and overwhelmed from time to time. :>)

  7. This slakes my thirst just in the reading, Diana. So, so beautiful. And now the thirst begins again–this desire to renew my own baptismal vows. Following the link to listen to the music now…

    • Thanks for reading, Laura. And for listening, too. That first song was brought to us by a former director of worship and was written by his friends. The video is from the college up the street from our church and the lead singer is another friend in that string from Michigan many years ago. Kinda cool.

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