In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:9-11, NRSV)
Frederic pulled me aside as our group was walking the streets of Jerusalem. “In three days we will be going to the Jordan River. Would you consider doing some sort of water ritual for our group there? Maybe you can work with Lawrence? I thought it may be nice to have a Catholic and a Protestant, a man and a woman to help us remember Christ’s baptism and our own baptisms?”
Lawrence (a Jesuit priest living in London) and I planned our ritual relying on the United Church of Christ “Renewal of Baptism” liturgy. And then we stood in the muddy waters of the Jordan River–Israel on one side and Jordan on the other, armed guards patrolling the border between these two countries.
In the midst of this juxtaposition, God was present. The air, the water, the sun beating down on us, the groups gathered for baptisms and baptismal remembrances, all somehow felt holy–touched by God. We blessed the flowing waters and blessed the children of God who stood before us: “Bless by your Holy Spirit, gracious God, this water that by it we may be reminded of our baptism into Jesus Christ and that by the power of your Holy Spirit we may be kept faithful until you receive us at last in your eternal home. Glory to you, eternal God, the one who was, and is, and shall always be, world without end. Amen.”
As each person came forward to be blessed we prayed the words, “Remember your baptism and be thankful.” Though in the end, we don’t have to stand in the Jordan River to remember our baptisms, and to thank God every day that we are God’s beloved. What would happen if we remembered this every day?
Photo by a fellow CEP participant at Tantur.