3The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over mighty waters… 11May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace! (Psalm 29: 3,11)
When Mary and Joseph got to the Jordan, it was such a relief. The waters were calm and beckoning, as if they contained something life-giving, as if they contained life. The river was a welcomed site. It meant that the path that they had taken was the right one and for at least a while, the waters would be their guide. They walked along the waters and listened to their voice. It was as if they were giving them something more, washing away fear and hesitation, perhaps again telling them, “Do not be afraid.” Somehow, this River Jordan, this simple body of water, called them in and sent them forth at the same time. They stopped every now and then and drank the cool water and as it trickled down their throats, they felt renewed. Things were going to be OK. And somehow they knew that the River Jordan would be important for them, would somehow be the source of life.
Three decades later, these waters would hold and give life yet again. These same waters would be the ones that would claim Jesus, the baby yet to be, as God’s Beloved. They would be the same waters that would send Jesus back into the wilderness to become who he was. And then, the waters would give us life as well. Water is the source of life in every way. Creation began in the waters, swirling and forming until it was ready to emerge as the lands of the earth. We began in the waters, protected in a watery womb until we could live. And then we were given life again through the waters of baptism.
In a way, it is the waters that connect us all—Waters to land, oceans to continents, Creation to Life, Jesus’ baptism to our own, Bethlehem to Jerusalem. We do not live hearing this story over and over again. We are instead invited to become it, to enter the water and feel its power, to live the story and become someone new. Perhaps it really is the waters that hold God’s voice. We just have to listen as they swirl around us.
As Jesus stood, dripping with the waters of the Jordan that poured back into themselves, everything indeed changed. In that moment, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, Creation and Eternity, manger and Cross, all who came before and all who would follow, were one. In that moment, all that was and all that would be were almost indistinguishable from each other. In that moment, all of those who were there that day and all of those who were part of the past and all of those who would come later in this walk of humanity, were swept into those waters, swept into the memories of what would be. Remembering means that we realize that we are part of the story, that we, too, emerge dripping with those waters.
This time of waiting, this time of journeying to Bethlehem, is not to hear the story again but to become someone new, to change, to receive new life so that we can begin again.
The future enters into us in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens. (Rainer Maria Rilke)
Grace and Peace,