I’m attending the Storyline Conference at Belmont here in Nashville. It’s nice because that means that EA, Jim, and I get to stay and visit with my in-laws who live a little over a mile from the school. Yesterday after a session, I decided to walk back to the house. It was a little bit of a risk because it was overcast, but pretty much any time that you’re outside in the south during the spring is a gamble.
A block or two in, it began to rain big, thick drops spread far apart. If I zigzagged with enough precision, I could probably have gone untouched. But then the rain began to come down in sheets. I was faced with a dilemma. Spring thunderstorms can last a few minutes or all day long. I could either press forward and get soaked or I could trespass onto someone’s property to take shelter on a front porch.
I pressed forward stopping only under the front of a Catholic church when it briefly began to hail. It rained my entire journey home. My white striped shirt stuck to my skin. My shorts and shoes turned a far darker gray than when I left. For a lot of people, this would have been a big inconvenience. Yet I didn’t really mind. In fact, it got me thinking about baptism.
"Remember your baptism." I have heard that spoken many times in church. Remember how God saved you. Remember when you were made new. EA and I attended a Lutheran church for about a year. When you entered the sanctuary, there was a little font in which you dipped your hand so you could tangibly remember those baptismal waters. That three word phrase—remember your baptisms—typically pops into my mind now whenever I see the ocean or a thunderstorm.
I think the idea is for you to never forget and the thing about never forgetting is that the past stays alive. When you remember that event, it lives with you. It walks with you. You are not just remembering when you were made new, you are remembering you are being made new.
I used to think of baptism as a fixed point in time. In the context of my walk yesterday, a single event baptism would have been a blast from a fire hydrant on an otherwise dry journey. But I’m thinking now that while the baptism event is fixed, what that symbolic act represents is ongoing. It’s a walk where it begins to rain and from that point on, I’m surrounded by water.
It’s not that I’m repeatedly deciding to follow Jesus anew over and over…though there is truth in that idea as well. But by remembering baptism, I am remembering that God is continually cleaning me, washing my old self, and making me new.