We live our lives by signs and symbols.
When we see a red octagonal sign with white lettering on it, we know it means stop.
When we see a rectangle with a blue square covered in white stars adjacent to white and red horizontal stripes, we know it means America.
When we see the double golden arches, we know it means hamburgers of dubious quality.
But as people of faith, our understanding of the symbolic universe goes much deeper than public safety, patriotism, or advertising.
God communicates to us through signs and symbols.
And in our walk with Christ, God is through our prayer and service helping us take these symbols deeper into our hearts until we ourselves become living signs and symbols of God’s love.
That is the journey these two children, Austin and Carter, are beginning today with their baptism.
And what we discover very rapidly in the life of faith is that God’s symbols are often ambiguous.
The images we take to our hearts, that we know will change us if we are faithful to how they point to God, cut both ways.
That jumped out at me so dramatically as I thought about water this week.
The images of homes and people drowning in water in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey are at war with our beautiful sacrament of baptism that we celebrate today.
For the people of southeast Texas and Louisiana, right now water means death and loss and fear. For those of us celebrating baptism with joy, water means life and rebirth and hope.
How do we reconcile that juxtaposition? Continue reading