Whenever I lead a baptism for an infant in worship, I fill the pitcher of water with hot water. Not immediately before the service but about 30-40 minutes before, giving it some time to cool down but not be freezing cold for the little one who has no idea what is happening when the baptism takes place. So, yesterday I was filming my sermon for Sunday and I’m focusing on baptism (which is a change in plans from the original schedule – a change was necessitated as a result of the riot at the Capitol on Wednesday). When I reached my hand into the water, I managed to not react too strongly when I felt what was ice cold water. I was in our chapel and the heat was on low and what was originally cold water just stayed cold since I hadn’t turned the thermostat up while I was recording.
But maybe there’s something in this about baptism and how it is supposed to wake us up. Maybe not when talking about an infant, but for those of us responding to the questions about the baptized or people being baptized themselves. When we are baptized or confirmed, it is about a waking up … waking up to the call of God in our lives… waking up to the need to live out our faith in tangible ways… waking up to the call to be people of justice and compassion and mercy… waking up to being people who are consciously and actively walking the way of Jesus.
Maybe a nice warm bowl of water for the infant but maybe something a bit more of a wake up for us as we get older… After all even Jesus’ own baptism had a bit of a “wake up” moment as Jesus “saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.” (Mark 4:10, NRSV). I’d say the heavens being torn apart would be a pretty strong wake up.