a disruption of traditional views of baptism with a cultural reflection on displacement & starting over
when i was 5, i proclaimed that i wanted to be in Jesus' family and that I was ready.
So, they took me to the water and dipped me under.
my sins had been washed away.
when i rose again, they explained, that i had been made new.
the new life in Christ meant i was walking with God as God's prized possession and that God was walking with me. my new life had begun.
when i was 33, a sizable portion of southern texas flooded. hurricane harvey didn't care who was ready. policies made sure that disenfranchised folks would not be ready.
so, this force of nature took people under water.
people's whole livelihoods have been washed away.
when people were rescued and made it out, they had to come to the realization that their old lives were no more. and that their new lives - lives without their prized possessions - would slowly begin.
and these same people had to learn to experience God and find God in the people who came to their aid even though their lives had nearly been destroyed.
i never thought about water as something that destroys. it had been easy to overlook noah as a sort of fable that communicated a larger message about a benevolent God. but maybe the flood in noah's time was as real as harvey. and maybe baptisms are not supposed to be as simple as it was explained to me when i was 5. because having new lives also means that old lives have to be destroyed. what happens when we start letting this water speak? to show us our humanity and ask hard questions about a God who creates but also destroys? what happens when we stop arguing over joel osteen and listen to the water? what pretty little theologies are disrupted when we refuse to resort to basic beliefs that negate the jagged edges of what it means to have to start over?
“...maybe baptisms are not supposed to be as simple as it was explained to me when i was 5. because having new lives also means that old lives have to be destroyed.”
i don't know what it feels like to have survived a flood of such proportion. my only point of reference is katrina which displaced my aunt who has never been the same since. it changed her. it baptized her. but maybe the waters are meant to baptize all of us - so that we are never the same.
this water speaks.