Genesis 1:1-5; Psalm 29; Acts 19:1-7; Mark 1:4-11
It’s not hard to see why people in early Palestinian cultures would view water as a deeply holy substance: life-giving, purifying, primal and revered. Our reading from Genesis today places water firmly at the mysterious core of creation, one of the first and most powerful things on which God’s creative agency acts. Water was not to be taken lightly in a desert land; thirst of body often echoed thirst of spirit in the songs of an arid country.
Yet John directs his followers to look past the baptism of water, past what cleanses and soothes, to the baptism of the Spirit. There’s both power and risk in following Jesus out of the waters of the Jordan, into the bustle of the towns and villages of Judea. The gift we carry, whatever we encounter, is God’s love, and the name we will always be known by, whatever we do, is beloved child.
To those beloved ones we baptize today: we wish you all the good things this good world offers, including an abiding awareness of how deeply you are woven into the love that brings this world to life. You are cherished as you are blessed and named, and you will be cherished every step of your journey.
Carol James has been part of the cathedral community for over a decade. She has served as a co-mentor in the Education for Ministry program. She currently leads the evening prayer providers in the Jail Ministry and is a cathedral staff member.
Image: Grace Cathedral’s baptismal font in 1867, photographed by early California photographer Carleton Watkins.