The symbolic power of water

Last Sunday after church John and I had the privilege of baptizing three adults. We went up to the river.

This was the first time I was part of a baptism in a river! It had rained throughout the weekend so we didn’t go out very deep where the current would sweep us away, but we could still feel the water moving as we stood and prayed in the water.

The symbol of going under the water and being cleansed of sin by God’s grace was very powerful! As though you could watch the sins float away. People affirming God’s love for them and work in their lives who made the commitment to love God back and celebrate life lived abundantly in God’s grace!

This week, on Monday night, the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah began. This is the Jewish New Year, and it is a time when people try to shed the sins of the previous year and being the new year right. One observance for this holiday is a practice called Tashlikh (“casting off”). Worshippers walk to a creek or a river and empty their pockets or cast bread crumbs into it, symbolizing the casting off of their sins of the previous year.

Praying in the Ocean

Praying in the Ocean

The tradition stems from a prayer invoking Micah 7:19, which instructs, “You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

Tashlich

Tashlikh

While the Christian Sacrament of baptism is rooted in a different Jewish rite of purification, the symbolic power of moving water struck a chord with me this week. To be released and freed from the weight of sin that we carry is such a blessing from God! I spoke with one of my new brothers in Christ about how life has been different since the baptism and he said he’s felt a lot more peace. What a gift!

Life isn’t going to be perfect for those three newly baptized folks. God promises to be with us and wade out into the deep water when we feel like we’re drowning and life is overwhelming.

If you feel like you need to cast off the sin in your life and seek God’s forgiveness I hope you’ll speak with a pastor – either John or I would be happy to talk with anyone near Warrenton, VA – and find out what it might meet for you to become baptized. If you have already been baptized at any point in your life you are welcome to celebrate a reaffirmation of your baptism and your commitment to God!

Take that chance to cast off the weight of the world and accept the freedom of abundant life through Christ!

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