Going Deeper 4-2-2019

The first reading for Lent 5...
Isaiah 43:16-21   Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.  I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.  The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise.

In this text addressed to people who have seemingly lost everything and are trapped in the Babylonian exile, we can see and hear echoes of baptismal theology.  First, God reminds them of what had happened generations before, when He powerfully and dramatically rescued their ancestors from abusive slavery in Egypt, creating "a path in the mighty waters" of the Red Sea and delivering them from their enemies.  

God then changes their focus from the past... "Do not remember the former things"... and points to "a new thing" He is about to do.  God will again rescue His people, this time creating a path through the wilderness as He leads them home, creating "rivers in the desert."  Not coincidentally, these words would generations later be echoed in the ministry of John the Baptizer.

Speaking to us and to our time these words call us to first remember what God has done, rescuing us from our enemies-- sin and death-- through the waters of our baptism, and then promising to lead us through the wilderness of our lives in this world to our eternal home.  Therefore, our lives can be understood as being a "baptismal journey."  

All along the journey, we will need to look in both directions.  We will need to remember the new beginning, the new creation accomplished by God in our baptism.  And we will also need to recognize God's ongoing presence and provision in the wilderness of our life and anticipate our final "welcome home" into the eternal Kingdom.  

Living in this baptismal awareness, we trust ourselves into the healing and transforming hands of our all-powerful and infinitely-loving Creator.

With You on the Journey,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."