The Baptism of Our Lord
Isaiah 43:  1-7
Psalm 29
Luke 3: 15-17, 21-22

I need some children to come up and help me out and maybe even bear witness to what is going to happen in the bowl of our baptismal font.

As the children can probably attest, the baptismal font is empty, but now I am going to empty a pitcher of water into the baptismal font.   As I pour the pitcher of water into the bowl, the water crashes and splashes and swirls.  It doesn’t take long however, for the water to become calm.  

What happens when I pour in another pitcher of water?  The water poured into the bowl stirs up the water that is already in the bowl.  Of course, it doesn’t take long for the water to become calm and smooth.

Now watch me stir up the water with my hand.  What do you see?   The water is stirred, it is bothered and it splashes and swirls and moves. 

Now what do you think would happen to this bowl of water, if we were to leave it sitting still for a week?  The water would become stale and stinky and gross.   How to avoid the water becoming stale?  We would add more water, so I will pour in another pitcher of water.   From time to time, I would have to come and stir the water with my hand so that it doesn’t sit long. 

So we avoid stale water by replenishing the water and stirring it up, that way the water stays fresher.  We stir up the water; we “trouble” the water.

We “trouble” the water.

Later on today, we are going to sing a song entitled, Wade in the Water.   There is a refrain or line that gets repeated, and it goes like this, “God’s a gonna trouble the water.”

            “God’s a gonna trouble the water.”

What does that mean?  It means that God is going to stir up the water and make it move and flow and bubble and splash and crash. 

It also means that God has stirred things up; God has made a splash in the world throughout history. 

Long, long ago, the people of Israel were held captive in Egypt and they were slaves, toiling under the whip of the Pharaoh.   Now Pharaoh thought that the waters of Egypt were calm and pleasing, but the waters were not calm for the Hebrew slaves.                                                              
God stirred things up.  God troubled the water, so much that God convinced Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go free. 

Our Old Testament reading from the prophet Isaiah makes note of this:

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.                                    

For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.

One of the ways that God troubled the waters for Pharaoh and Egypt was to bring all those plagues upon Egypt, not the least of which was turning the waters of the Nile River into blood.                                                                                                                             

God troubles the waters and the people of Israel go free.

The psalm writer in Psalm 29, notes the ability of God to trouble the waters.  The psalm writer says:

The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over mighty waters.

Many, many years later, God would trouble the waters in an amazing way.   First of all, God troubled the waters by sending John the Baptist.                                                                                      

John the Baptist looked around his homeland of Israel and he saw that Israel was becoming stale and poisoned.  While the leaders of Israel thought the waters were calm, John stirred the waters and called everyone to go out to the waters of the Jordan River, to be baptized.  John`s baptism of repentance was meant to trouble the waters, to convince people to turn around and become a God-fearing, God-following compassionate nation.                                                              
But John the Baptist was not the only one to stir the waters. 

God REALLY troubles the waters, REALLY stirs the waters big time, by sending Jesus.  Jesus walks into the Jordan River, is baptized by John and God begins to stir the waters.                          

Jesus, the son of God, embarks upon his ministry which includes everybody, encourages everybody to share the abundance of creation; it is a ministry of love and compassion.   The ministry and teaching of Jesus are something that has never been seen before .                                                  
God REALLY troubles the waters.  Jesus speaks the mind of God, shows the heart of God and ultimately God troubles the waters in the most amazing way, sending Jesus to the cross to suffer and die for our forgiveness of sins and for our eternal life.  Sin and death has no claim upon us.                                                                                         God TROUBLES the waters and God has not stopped troubling the waters.  

Earlier I had mentioned that we are going to sing a song entitled, Wade in the Water which features the refrain, “God’s a gonna trouble the water.”

That song comes out of the United States and it is an African American spiritual.  It is a song that was written by African Americans at a time when many of them were slaves.   They sang this song because it gave them hope that someday they would be free people. 

How were they going to become free people?   

“God’s a gonna trouble the water.”

They prayed and they believed that God would trouble the waters that God would stir the waters and much like the people of Israel, they would be free.  And God did trouble the waters and God did stir the waters and they were made free.                                                                                     

Ever since, God has CONTINUED to trouble the waters, stir the waters and African American people have continued to make strides in many areas of their society.  They have a long way to go in many regards but God will NOT stop troubling the waters and life will continue to change for them and all people. 

             “God’s a gonna trouble the water.”

God troubles OUR waters.   We have been baptized in water like this and when we were baptized the waters were quite calm before the waters were poured over our heads.  But from then on, God troubles our baptismal waters

            When we were baptized God commanded us to let our lights so shine before others so that they might see the glory of God the Father.   God has called us to bear God`s creative and redeeming word to all the world. 

Ever since THEN, God troubles our waters, calling us to action.  God troubles the waters, stirs the waters and invites us to be a part of that splashing water.   As God stirs the water, God invites us to take part, to bring in the kingdom of God, to make a world that God desires and wishes for all people. 

Later on, while you are in Sunday school, the adults are going to remember their baptisms and say yes to those baptisms.   As they do this, I am going to ask them the following questions: 

You have made public profession of your faith.

Do you intend to continue in the covenant God made with you in holy baptism:

  • to live among God’s faithful people,
  • to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper,
  • to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed,
  • to serve all people, following the example of Jesus,
  • and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth?

In other words, I will ask the adults if they are ready to have God trouble their waters.  Are they ready to have God stir up the waters?  Are they ready to participate in God`s dream of justice and equality and compassion?

Some will likely say yes, some will say maybe.   God knows when we are ready to participate in living out God`s dream, but that never stops God from troubling the waters.  

God is always moving, always stirring things up, God is always changing this world to make things better for all.

God`s a gonna trouble the waters.  Amen.