I had the privilege of teaching my church’s confirmation class about the Sacraments this morning.
When I teach about Baptism, which is one of our two Sacraments in the United Methodist Church, I often ask, “What is water used for?” I’m looking for three answers, each that help us understand the meaning of Baptism, knowing I will usually only get two.
Everyone knows that we use water to wash. Similarly, Baptism washes away our sins.
Everyone knows that we need water to live. Similarly, in Baptism we receive the Holy Spirit, who is the source of never-ending life.
The third, that know one ever thinks of, is that water can kill a person – you can drown in it. Similarly, the waters of Baptism drown us, killing the old sinful person, and then we rise from the water, born again.
But, today, one of the confirmands thought of one that I had never considered. Water refreshes.
I like that image of Baptism. Baptism refreshes. In Baptism, I enter into life in the Spirit, which is refreshing.
I was reminded of Acts 3:19, where Peter says, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”
I love that image – times of refreshing from the Lord – that begins with Baptism.
Though there are certainly times for seriousness, and even lament, it seems to me that spiritual refreshment ought to be the defining characteristic of life as Jesus followers.
Yes, there are times for reflection and discernment. Yes, we are called to obedience. Yes, there are times for broken-hearted repentance and confession. Yes, there are times for rolling up our sleeves and doing what needs to be done. Yes, there are times for prophets to speak out, and to fight for justice. Yes, there are times for weeping and wailing. But, refreshment is a gift that is perpetually available, and too often ignored.
Jesus said that all we have to do is ask…
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead?12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:9-13)
Refreshment. I like that. I want that. I need that.