This morning I was having a conversation with the foreman of the Black Student Union that is being built next to University Lutheran. We talked about a lot of stuff, but eventually the conversation came to what was happening in Texas. We talked about the flooding damage that we had seen – him from living in Miami during the era of Hurricane Andrew and myself from helping with relief work after Katrina in New Orleans. The amount of destructive power that water has is amazing. But that same element, water, has an amazing amount of healing power as well.
This week we confessed what the Small Catechism says about Baptism, the 3rd part:
“How can water do such great things?Certainly not just water, but the word of God in and with the water does these things, along with faith which trusts this word of God in the water. For without God’s word the water is plain water and no Baptism. But with the word of God, it is a Baptism, that is, a life giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit.”
Water is powerful enough in itself, which is what makes this statement from the Catechism even more powerful. The Word of God makes water even more powerful. No one is confused about the power of water this week as we see Houston “baptized” (the Greek word for Baptism evokes the idea of a sinking ship), but God’s baptism is even more powerful.
Undoubtedly, water will have destroyed much of Houston by the time that Hurricane Harvey is done. But consider what God’s water of Baptism has destroyed. It has destroyed your sin. It has destroyed your death. It has destroyed everything that separates you from God. It has broken through the levies of sin, death, and the devil. This is what it means to be Baptized, to be overwhelmed by the powerful water of God, to experience the destruction of all that is temporary, so that when the waters recede – all that will be found in you is Christ.