“WALKING WET” — sloshing gracefully through life!

‘…is it ever gonna stop?’

…and I heard him murmur...

“what I’d give for a dry pair of socks…”

“Walking Wet!”  I can’t remember exactly when I first heard this phrase, but, I’ve always liked it.  It’s what Christians do.  Well, at least we should!

What other choice do we have?  I mean for the ones who have been dunked or dipped, poured over or sprinkled upon?

How good it would be for the world if every day along every sidewalk and in every hallway each of us could hear the loud…”squish…squish…squish” of our shoes and see the visible water residue left behind us with each step…‘walking wet“… a term I’ve always liked and reflected best in the identity we share via our Gulf Coast Synod’s Youth & Family Ministry web-site…  www.soggyshoes.org which by the way is now available vis the synod web… with the quote… “when you walk in the waters of your baptism you end up with soggy shoes…” to which I add not an ‘amen’ but a ‘squeek-squeek!’  Oh how good it could be if we could walk that way each day…yet knowing our socks would get wet… and thus today I murmur in a good way about baptism… mine and yours…the event of God’s grace that we go back to day after day…more refreshing than that first morning cup of coffee!

Here are the facts.  My parents, Bud and Doris agreed with The Rev. Clarence Stadtlander, pastor at old St. Paul’s in Youngstown, OH to celebrate my baptism on April 4 , 1954.  I had no say in the matter.  Nor did I have a say in my birth, but I claimed it along the way just the same!  There were many aunts and uncles and friends of this couple and in fear of not offending anyone (gee, I just hate that being a reason for doing or not doing something… and there goes the grumbling…not trying to offend you or anything) I got the short end of the ‘sponsor’ stick and have lived my life with no Godparents.  The wind was blowing about 7 miles per hour proving the Holy Spirit showed up… wind of God…breath of God… winding through the pews, over the organ keys,  flicking gently the lit candles on the altar, encouraging the hearts of the people there, diving into the Word of God and the water without hesitation… fulfilling holy desires in us not knowing a thing of  the origin or destination… only recognizing the Spirit’s presence …and according to the Ohio historical weather reports… there was no rain in sight.  The congregation sang what is now one of my favorite songs, “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” as the hymn d’ jour!  And I have no reports or photos that there was any kind of a party after the church service.  Perhaps, that was because it wasn’t for my family (4 generations were present for sure with my great-grandmother, too!) a thing of extraordinariness…but, rather, just what we did…knowing their shoes were already wet when mine got that way…and oh yeah,  Jesus was already there before any of us showed up…smiling and saying, ‘welcome… you are mine…”  Afterall, we baptize because Jesus told his followers…”Go!  Make disciples!  Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit teaching them all I have commanded you.”

I’ve always liked that part, too… “Go…make disciples…” with the baptizing command coming before the command to ‘teach!’

But, there’s more than that… maybe what I like about baptism and walking wet is what I like about life… the understanding I didn’t ask for it and still it’s mine!  I mean, think about it… all the fussing people of all faiths make about baptism… when to do it… how old…how much water…what happens if you don’t and all the other things this little word, baptism, conjures up… nobody signs up or stands in line to buy the ticket to be born… and so just as my birthday is a gift…so is baptism and all its benefits!  We don’t ask…God just shows up with 5 great gifts and says, “here… this is for you!”

 And so, as we walk wet…we walk in humility and with power and with purpose… and here’s what the Bible says happens…

Because of the Word of God and promise of God attached to the water…

  1. we are forgiven of original sin— that reality that the perfect life God created for us is no longer that way and so this ‘new life’ of forgiveness and grace rushes us into God’s ocean of life.  Life won’t be sin-free or sin-less but God won’t see what God has washed away…
  2. we are named and claimed as God’s child; loved now and forever.  If you ever… ever wonder who you are or who you belong to… look at your baptismal certificate!
  3. we are made member of the Body of Christ and  ministry partner in the local congregation of faith.  And even if we move to a new town or country… our baptism gives us street cred for our new digs…
  4. we experience the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and all his gifts; and
  5. we are extended the gift of eternal life, which begins at that momet…in baptism not the day we die… for those who are baptized into Christ’s kingdom will never die!

Nice list, huh?  Wrapped and re-wrapped daily… And as a result I spend my days and moments sloshing my way through God’s world and the Kingdom I’m part of part of something huge and eternal… knowing that my walking wet serves only to water and nourish a world parched from selfishness and a desire by so many to ignore the ways of God and the love of Jesus given to all…

Now, here’s the point.  Fifty-seven years ago today was the day I was baptized.  4/4/54 – 4/4/11 = 57 years!  I’ve not been perfect.  Yet, God calls me his own.  I’d like to take some things back.  But, grace has set me free from the guilt and shame.  There are some folks who really don’t like me.  Same with Abraham Lincoln and Mother Theresa; and some folks really like me a lot…but some folks liked Hitler and Idi Amin!  As that is NOT the point.  But this is…  I didn’t ask to be born.  Nor did you.   I certainly didn’t ask to be baptized.  And that might be your story as well.  But, just as I have grown into this thing called, ‘life,’ with all of its joys, sadness, victories, dangers, toils and snares seeing it as a gift of God to be treasured, I live that way now in my baptism  as in this relationship of grace and power, God has levelled the playing field opening to me and all the baptized a world where each and every day I have the experience of discovering all the gifts of life I need to live life well…full of faith…full of promise…full of truth and full of purpose… as it is truly God’s work..given and designed for my benefit and yours…

Martin Luther once said, “when you wash your face…remember your baptism…”  What a great way to start each day…day after day… until socks are no longer necessary…

Grumbling infrequently…

    Brian

 

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About briangigee

Loves life; lives love! Bud and Doris' eldest son. Descendant of 'refiners' and 'reformers.' Husband to Margo. Father of 5. Grandfather to 2. Brother, uncle, friend and colleague. Working parish pastor. Became a naturalized Texan in February 2013.
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One Response to “WALKING WET” — sloshing gracefully through life!

  1. Amen, Brian:

    “nipson anomhma, mh monan opsin” “Wash, wash your sins away, don’t only wash your face.” from an old Greek Baptismal font.

    Happy Baptism anniv. Mine was 3/29/59= 52 years!

    Steve

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