They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. John 1:25-28
The other afternoon we went up to the beach relatively late. The tide was rolling in and the wind was very strong. No umbrellas were up as they would have blown over if they were. It was hog and muggy so the wind off the water felt great. It was even better when we jumped in, walking far out into the water as the waves crashed over us in a constant motion. It was a challenge to keep our feet underneath us and it was exhilarating. Water has always had the power to change my frame of mind and push me away from those shallow stuck places. Water has power to change us completely.
In the Gospel we hear the story of John's ministry and the challenges he faced with the religious leadership. People were responding to him, coming out from the cities and villages to be baptized and changed. He was preparing them for an encounter with the living God, but very few would understand until Jesus began his ministry. John knew that the water had power to prepare them and change them, making them ready to receive God's love in a new and startling way. Our baptism is the initiation into a life time of change and invitation by God, a lifetime of encounters with the living God.
Today, I ask God to help me remember that the simple act of baptism has great power. The water is a beginning of our lives with God and we are invited in each new day to be renewed and made new by God's love. May we all be ready for the power that is upon us and within us for change and growth, the gift of God's love that began with a few drops of water but which will cover us, wave after wave as we serve the world in God's name.