Walking Wet
Genesis 9:8-17 & 1 Peter 3:18-22

Today I’ve put a photo on the projector of a bird on the beach with his feet submerged in the water.  I chose this image because for me it symbolizes ‘Walking Wet’.  Today I’d like to explore what it means to walk wet, to daily live in your baptism and the promise that God made for you when you were baptised.

Noah and his family were perhaps the first of God’s people to walk wet, they were the ones who were saved from destruction in the floodwaters as God provided for them and brought them through in the ark.  It’s a familiar story, but one that we are reminded of every time we see a rainbow in the sky.  Well at least I am.  Sometimes I get distracted when a rainbow reminds me of the legend of a pot of gold being found at the end of a rainbow, but mostly I return quickly to the promise that God made to Noah and to all people.  Whenever he sees the rainbow in the sky he will be reminded of his covenant with all life on earth that flood waters will never destroy all life.

This was the first promise that God made that involved water.  The rainbow itself occurs when light is refracted through water vapour.  Without water there would be no rainbows! 

Rainbows can also be a reminder to us of the promise that God makes to us in Baptism.  As we heard in our second reading, Peter links the water of the flood with the water of baptism that now saves you also.  It isn’t about making us physically clean, even though water is very helpful in cleaning dirt off of us.  The water in Baptism is linked to the Word that is spoken with it and the promises made as well.  Just as the water and the promise of God were linked in the saving of Noah and his family, in Baptism we are saved by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We are made spiritually clean.

Baptism is known as a ‘sacrament’.  You may be clear on what a sacrament is, but many people aren’t.  There is even a bit of disagreement on this point between various denominations of the Christian Church, but the Lutheran church believes and confesses that there are two sacraments, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion.  This is based on three criteria, they must be commanded by God, they must have an earthly or visible element and they must contain a promise from God.

Today we’re talking about Baptism, so can you think of where it was commanded?  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  That’s a command in my way of thinking!  We’ve been talking about the earthly element all of the way through, that is water.  And then comes the promise, we’ve talked a bit about that as well, and as we’ve heard many times, Jesus links baptism with salvation and a promise, “Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved”, you can’t get much clearer than that!

So when we have been baptised should it just be a set and forget sort of a deal?  I don’t think so.  We didn’t finish the reading from Matthew 28 before, after we hear the command to go and make disciples of all nations Jesus continues with these words, “and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age”.

The teaching part is given to us to help us to walk wet.  As Luther asked in his small catechism, “What does baptism mean for everyday living?”  Let’s take a look at how he answers that.
“Because we have been baptised, we should keep on drowning the old nature we were born with; everything selfish and sinful in us has to die.  This happens when day after day we are sorry for the wrong things we have done and ask God to forgive us.  And the new nature God has given us in baptism should come to life day after day.  We should live as new people who do what is right and good and live with God forever.

Whenever I meet with a family who want to have their child baptised I give them a copy of the brochure, “Having your child Baptised.  This helps explain what happens in Baptism, the promises God makes to his children who are baptised in his name and also the promises that parents and sponsors make to the child during the baptism rite, to pray for them, teach them and bring them to the services in God’s house.  We share in those promises as fellow Christians. 

One way we do that as a congregation is to send out anniversary cards until a child who is baptised turns ten.  My family remember their baptism on the anniversary by sharing a favourite meal, usually by candlelight and using the rite for an anniversary of baptism, which is also available at the office.  This rite repeats the promises made by us at baptism and the promises God made to us as well for us to hear all over again.  This is just one way to ‘walk wet’.

Hearing the words of Christ’s forgiveness won for us is another way.  We in the Lutheran church have all but dispensed with private confession and absolution, where we go to the pastor and confess our sins and hear Christ’s word of forgiveness spoken.  We do it though as an important part of our worship service.  Not just as a reminder that our sins are forgiven, but we physically confess our sins and then hear the words spoken by the pastor on behalf of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This forgiveness was first given at our baptism but continues to be given over and over again as we come and seek it.

The sacraments are also sometimes called God’s means of grace.  In them we receive physically the gift of God’s amazing grace that gave us forgiveness of sins and life everlasting.  Not at a cost of silver or gold, only at a cost to God, that his son paid for our sins with his life.  In Holy Communion we receive again and again God’s forgiveness in his body and blood.  You could say that as we regularly receive Holy Communion we are walking wet, living in our Baptism.

What does all this mean for your everyday life though?  Think about it.  If you begin each day remembering that you are baptised and as a result you are living proof that God forgives and made a promise to all people at the time of Noah and then through his Son Jesus that not only would water not come and destroy the earth ever again, but that in baptism He would destroy death so that we will have eternal life, how can we possibly do anything but rejoice and give thanks for his amazing mercy and grace?  When we are tempted, we can remember that Jesus too was tempted, and just as he was protected from temptation we too can turn to him for his help.

How can we remain down and dirty on the world for all that it throws at us when we have the ultimate gift, eternal life?

Next time you see a rainbow, or walk along a beach, or even get caught in a shower of rain, yes it will rain again, remember the promises God made to you, remember the promises that you have made since then to all of your sponsored God children either directly or as a member of the priesthood of all believers, and give thanks to God for his generous gift to you!!!