Back in high school, my very first alto solo was to an African-American spiritual entitled Wade in the Water. I had (and generally continue to be) a high soprano. And I gave no one any warning, outside the choir of course, that I was singing something different. Which means that it took all of the parents, including my mother, nearly the entire stretch of time I was belting out the heartfelt melody to figure out where the sound was coming from. Priceless.
The lyrics I sang were simple: Wade in the water. Wade in the water, children. Wade in the water – God’s gonna trouble the water. Something I still remember to this day.
This weekend we are celebrating the Baptism of Christ. When he was thirty years old, Jesus suddenly gave up whatever life he had previously had and appeared at the edge of the River Jordan where his slightly older cousin was baptizing the whole countryside for the forgiveness of sins. You can almost picture the scene out of O Brother, Where Art Thou, with perhaps slightly more ancient attire.
And even though he was without sin, Jesus still entered the river and asked for the same baptism as the rest of us. Taking on our mess. Our brokenness. All the ways we continuously fall short.
There is a whole lot we can unpack about the meaning of Jesus’s baptism. A bunch of it has to do with prefiguring his death, because baptism by blood is very much a thing.
But something to note is that in the midst of this huge crowd of people, God showed up right where no one expected. And, as always, stirred up some really good trouble.
If we learn nothing else from this story, remember this: God will always trouble the waters and show up when and where we are least expecting. So maybe it’s time to start looking in all the unexpected places.
Blessings, Pastor Janie