One of the dates by which things are measured at St Paul’s is the 1937 flood. Jeffersonville is a river town on the Ohio River. This is one of the major trade highways of the U.S. A block from our house we can stand and watch barges pushed by towboats (or are they tug boats) either way they push large barges of materials and raw materials along the river. The famous humidity and some air quality problems are a product of being in the river valley. Traffic patterns as well as political party platforms and careers are determined by the river, its bridges or lack thereof.
Moving here from Western New York I spent much of my life on the shore of one of the Great Lakes. The lakes cool down the summer temperatures and are the source of lake effect snows in winter. The lakes provide what seems like an inexhaustible supply of water. They become an attraction for tourists and permanent residents alike.
What is the same is that the both areas are shaped by water. Life is influenced and determined by the ebb and flow of this simple, plentiful element called water. There is a spiritual truth here as well.
We who are followers and disciples of Jesus have been washed in the water of baptism and sealed by the Spirit of God. And it is the water of baptism that shapes our lives and molds us. Baptism is not just a nice symbolic ritual.
Even when water is poured over us (rather than being immerse) we are buried with Christ in his death and raised a new being and inheritor of the kin-dom of God. Life is never the same.
We have been given the gift of love, grace and the responsibility to share God’s good news of love – to co-create the world anew with God, as God would have it. We are not the designers and architects. We are the artisans who work with the plans to bring them into being. To further mix the metaphors we are the clay of earth who have been shaped by the water of baptism. And we are invite others to become shaped and molded as well.
The Ohio River, the Great Lakes are different but their effects are similar in shaping life together in their areas. St Paul’s exists primarily for those who are not yet its members to witness to the love which shaped us and invite others to come to the water in which we are shaped by God into that which we truly are.