We could read today’s psalm as a portrayal of a distant God separate from creation and thus capricious and rapacious. We could read it as God thrashing and trashing the trees, ravishing the wilderness, setting forests on fire, and flooding lands maliciously. (Perhaps a god like ourselves, careless with creation.)

Yet this is a psalm, a song for worship, a text with a liturgical context. When reciting or singing it, we encounter the numinous in our experience of nature. Thunder, lightning, wind, and storm, Lebanon skipping like a calf, and even an earthquake speak with God’s voice. Without the natural world, we would have no images and no imagination with which to declare God’s glory and power. The forces and realities of nature are a book we must read to know the glory of God in the other book: the Bible.

Disorder and destruction are so named because of our miscalculation of powers and cycles we cannot fully measure or control. What if we expanded our understanding of baptism to include yielding to such power and glory? Jesus speaks of it when he tells Peter, “When you grow old . . . someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go” (John 21:18).

How can we know the wonder and wildness of our baptism if we refuse to acknowledge that we are integral to the beauty and wildness of nature? How will we appreciate the force of the inbreathing Spirit if we have not stood in the gale and shuddered at thunder’s intrusion? In our living and dying, baptism immerses us in nature. Our God, our creator, present in creation’s order and wildness, comes to us, speaks to us, fills us with wind and fire, and evokes our declaration, “Glory!”

In this moment, be present to nature and its mediation of God’s inbreathing presence.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

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Lectionary Week
January 7–13, 2019
Scripture Overview

Water is an important theme throughout the Bible. The authors of scripture use water as an image of transition and sometimes challenge and always tie it back to God’s renewing work. Isaiah records the divine promise that God will not abandon Israel, even if they pass through trying waters—a reference to the deliverance of the Israelites from the Egyptians. The psalmist declares that God’s voice covers all the waters, so nothing can come against us that is beyond God’s reach. In Acts we see the connection between baptism—passing through the water—and the gift of the Holy Spirit. The emphasis is on the inclusion of the Samaritans, a group considered unclean by many but not by God. We see clearly the connection between water baptism and the Spirit in the baptism of Jesus himself.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Isaiah 43:1-7. Isaiah presents an image of God’s favor that is at once particular and universal. How do you experience God’s love for you as part of the body of Christ as well as for all persons?
Read Psalm 29. God’s creation, in its wildness, incorporates destruction. In the face of disaster, how do you find a way to say, “Glory”?
Read Acts 8:14-17. Our baptism is in the name of Jesus and the name of the Spirit. To what wildness does the Spirit prompt you?
Read Luke 3:15-17, 21-22. Remember your baptism and listen for God’s call out into the wildness of the world.

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