Monday, April 13, 2009

thirsty journey

Throughout the just-passed season of Lent, the baptismal font in the entrance of the church on Excursion Byway was dry, very dry, gathering a patina of dust. "We're going dry for Lent" the spiritual leader allowed. A few blocks away at the Expedition Trail building, after Brother Will inadvertently overflowed the font, the spiritual leader suggested he dry out the drenched surrounding floor. "Water is life," the banner on one of my favorite Facebook apps reminds us; know-it-all Wikipedia says the human body is 55% to 78% water, "depending on body size." What is thirst? This is a little sophomoric, but the 3rd definition for thirsty in dictionary dot com describes "eagerly desirous; eager," citing "thirsty for news" as an example.

Both the parched – thirsty – desert and watery baptism are constitutive experiences for us as individuals and as community, events that define, shape and refine us into our identity as God's called-out people. How many times have I essentially said, "in the sparse economy of the desert, God's nascent people Israel learned to receive a gift—and to recognize the gift"?! I could recapitulate a lot of what I said during January 2005 in "wilderness handbook: the desert again."

"It's a thirsty journey," the pastor of the Excursion Byway congregation observed. We know something about death from H20 dehydration and dying from lack of nutrition; what types of dying and dessication happen to individuals or communities who try to journey without water from the fountain of first death and second birth?

Five years ago in longing for home I explained:
...just like the Israelites of the Exodus, in Jesus Christ we live in the precariousness of nomadic, unsettled existence, daily undergoing baptism's liminality: each day recalling and actually reliving the perilous and risk-filled underwater moment in that watery tomb of death that at the same time is sustaining womb of new life, the fragile instant in which we need totally to trust the baptizer - who, after, all represents God, the One Who really baptizes.
Legend tells us every day Martin Luther looked into the mirror and reminded himself "I am baptized." Likewise, we need daily awareness of the uncertainties, hazards and especially the tremendous promise lying underneath ("in, with and under?!") shifting sands, rocky streets, enterprising endeavors and exciting opportunities. No one and nothing ever offers a distinct pathway or a reliable navigation device to anyone, but the God of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ journeys alongside us and gives us the gift of resurrection at adventure's end, and many times along the way.

It's a thirsty journey because it's also a dusty walk...

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