Like all my companion authors for Disciplines 2022, I am writing during a year fraught with uncertainty. It will be the defining year for this current generation. The names we hear on the news each day will be names written in history and studied by those who come after us in the way I know the names Louis Pasteur and Jonas Salk, people who changed the world for generations before mine. It feels like a year for the ages.
When we read Disciplines 2022, we will have some perspective about 2020. Then again, 2022 will present its own level of uncertainty and possibility, as has every year before it. We tend to make each moment about ourselves, as if it were the only moment ever known to creation. But there have been so many fortuitous moments. Consider the people who pondered these questions: When will the rain stop? How much farther to Canaan? Where are the Babylonians taking us? What are we going to eat? Who will save us?
Other than the name markers of Canaan and Babylon, these same questions have been asked by people throughout history, not just in biblical narratives. Exchange Canaan for America and it becomes a question on the lips of immigrants from Europe, Africa, Latin America, and Asia or any other people who left home in search of a better life. Exchange Babylon for America and it becomes a question on the lips of indigenous children forced into boarding schools, immigrant children separated from their parents at the border, or Black men arrested on the street corner for being on the street corner.
The answer never changes: Do not fear, for I am with you.
“Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Tell of God’s mercy each day” (Baptismal Covenant I, The United Methodist Book of Worship).
Water is an important theme throughout the Bible. The authors of scripture use water as an image of transition and sometimes challenge, and they tie it back to God’s renewing work. Isaiah records the divine promise that God will not abandon Israel, even if they pass through trying waters—a reference to the deliverance of the Israelites from the Egyptians. The psalmist declares that God’s voice covers all the waters, so nothing can come against us that is beyond God’s reach. In Acts we see the connection between baptism—passing through the water—and the gift of the Holy Spirit. The emphasis is on the inclusion of the Samaritans, a group considered unclean by many but not by God. We see clearly the connection between water baptism and the Spirit in the baptism of Jesus himself.
Read Isaiah 43:1-7. Isaiah presents an image of God’s favor that is at once particular and universal. How do you experience God’s love for you and for all persons as part of the body of Christ?
Read Psalm 29. God’s creation, in its wildness, incorporates destruction. In the face of disaster, how do you find a way to say, “Glory”?
Read Acts 8:14-17. Our baptism is in the name of Jesus and the name of the Spirit. To what wildness does the Spirit prompt you?
Read Luke 3:15-17, 21-22. Remember your baptism and listen for God’s call out into the wildness of the world.
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