Their life shall become like a watered garden,
and they shall never languish again.
- Jeremiah 31:12 (NRSV)
Fill a baptismal font with water, invoke the Holy Spirit over it, and you can almost watch it fill with grace. Suddenly it becomes the deep over which God’s Spirit brooded at the beginning. The Red Sea through which the Israelites passed to freedom. The flowing Jordan. The waters of Mary’s womb, and the tears she shed at the cross. The sea over which Jesus walked. The stream from the crystal throne of God. A font blessed contains an ocean’s worth of miracles and memories and symbols and salvation.
But really, the most miraculous thing our baptismal fonts hold is: water.
The stuff you’re mostly made of.
The stuff Earth’s mostly covered with.
The universal solvent.
That with which you washed your newborn.
That with which you wash yourself.
That without which you would die, fast.
More important than food, stronger than stone, free out of the sky, object of wars.
Powerful enough that people will walk miles and miles a day for it.
Powerful enough that our government will prosecute you if you give it to the wrong people in the desert.
And if the water in your font is clean enough that it won’t give you cholera or lead poisoning, then you have before you a vessel of the most longed-for substance in human history, still out of reach for people from Flint to Port au Prince to Chennai.
Bless a baptismal font filled with clean water, and you might think you have before you a symbol of grace.
You do not. You have before you a vessel full of the real thing.
Bless by your Holy Spirit, gracious God, this water—in our fonts, in our bodies, in the world. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.