On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand
Today our pilgrimage in the Holy Land will take us to the Jordan River and the Yardenit baptismal site.
The site we'll be visiting is far from the traditional site where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, which is to the south, near Jericho. This site also happens to be the spot where the Israelites miraculously crossed the Jordan River on their way to enter and take the Promised Land.
Some scholars also believe that it's also the site where the river miraculously parted when Elijah struck the river with his cloak so that he and his apprentice Elisha could walk over on dry land. Elisha in turn struck the river with Elisha's cloak when he returned from seeing his master taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire.
So the baptismal site of Jesus (the traditional one) is pretty important.
Mark's Gospel notes the baptism of Jesus with these words:
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
In that moment we see the Father, Son and the Spirit coming together in a singular revelation. The Spirit hovers over Jesus like the Spirit hovered over the waters of Creation in Genesis. God speaks as God spoke and Creation sprang into life.
This bend in the Jordan River is a holy place, and as Jesus comes up out of the water we see the new thing that God is doing, the new Creation that is being fashioned through Jesus himself.
If you choose to enter into the waters of the Jordan River today, you may not be at the traditional site, but it won't be hard for you to feel something special. Baptism is a a sign and symbol of the power God has to make in us a new creation.
And when we speak the words, "In the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit," we acknowledge their presence in us, through us and all around us.
May you discover the joy that comes from renewing or remembering your baptism in the Jordan River, if you choose to do so--either by immersion or sprinkling. And may it be a blessed memory for you today and every day after this.