Psalm 19:7-11(12-14) Wisdom 7:24-28 Ephesians 2:17-22 John 14:23-26
Swish, swish. The drops of holy water scattered over the group gathered on the banks of the River Jordan. The olive branch wielded by our Rector Luis arced the drops through the still air over all of us, over me. Swish, swish. There was no immersion, no cup of water from the baptismal font, no choir singing (but the hymn I have heard so many times—Wade in the Water—did ring in my head).
I had been baptized as a baby in the Episcopal Church. If you were to ask what that had meant to me, I might have repeated what the Church says. I might have recalled the words of St. John the Baptist. But other than marking my belonging to the Episcopal Church, being baptized had little meaning for me.
On my trip to the Holy Land, I had not expected to renew my baptismal vows at the River Jordan. Even that morning, I was seriously thinking of not doing so, wishing to avoid participating in the exclusion of the unbaptized under church doctrine.
But as I stood there on the riverbank, my hesitations vanished. Enveloped in the familiar words of the Service of Baptism, I renewed my vows. I suddenly felt embraced by the Holy Spirit and welcomed into a broader spiritual community.
In Lent we are also called upon to overcome that which divides us from each other and to let the Holy Spirit in.