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Students sitting outside Bockman
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Saturday, January 06, 2018

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Wade in the water,
wade in the water, children,
wade in the water,
God's a-goin'-a trouble the water.

(See that host all dressed in white,)
God's a-goin'-a trouble the water.
(the leader looks like the Israelite.)
God's a-goin'-a trouble the water.  

(See that band all dressed in red,)
God's a-goin'-a trouble the water.
(looks like the band that Moses led.)
God's a-goin'-a trouble the water.

(Look over yonder, what do I see?)
God's a-goin'-a trouble the water.
(the Holy Ghost a-coming on me.)
God's a-goin'-a trouble the water.  

(If you don't believe I've been redeemed,)
God's a-goin'-a trouble the water.
(just follow me down to Jordan's stream.)
God's a-goin'-a trouble the water.


The readings for this week have been focused by Christian observation of the Baptism of Jesus. The subject of baptism can--and indeed, does--"trouble the water" among Christians and non-Christians alike. Often, it is we who trouble that water even further. An example of this "trouble" recently appeared in responses to a social media site posting: "Do we get baptized in order to be saved. Or are we saved first and then get baptized?" The 73 comments made within the first hour of that posting were all over the map, from those who declared the sacrament to be utter nonsense, to one who quoted, in its entirety, Luther's Small Catechism on the topic.

We have, indeed, "troubled the water" of this sacrament. We appreciate it as a visible means by which God promises forgiveness of sins and, therefore, "salvation." I'm in awe of the mysterious "merger" that occurs when the name of God and that of the baptized are linked in the same breath. But I'm troubled by those who would make God's gift of grace into a law by holding the unbaptized as outside the range of God's love.

Our quest for understanding is endless. But so is God's love. It's that love that encourages us to keep asking the questions, even when they seem impertinent.

Merciful God, faith is ultimately a mystery to us. The means by which the Holy Spirit instills that faith within us is also a mystery. In the midst of our questions, invite us to keep seeking greater understanding of you. Keep on loving us, Lord, and give light to our path. Amen.

J. David Whelan, '95
Pastor of Visitation and Care, Central Lutheran Church, Chippewa Falls, Wis.


This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.