Isaiah 43:1-7 (NRSV)
Chapter 43But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. Verse 2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Verse 3For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you. Verse 4Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life. Verse 5Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you; Verse 6I will say to the north, "Give them up," and to the south, "Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth- Verse 7everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made."
It's baptism week! As in, the weekly themes on The Great British Bake-Off (I'm a big fan): pastry week, bread week, patisserie week, etc. Now, as we prepare for Baptism of Our Lord Sunday, it's baptism week.
In today's reading, Isaiah certainly is not referencing the Christian sacrament of baptism. Yet the author gifts us with poetic promises of God, one after another: promises we especially claim in baptism. Ingredients, if you will, in the life of faith: redemption, presence, protection, deliverance, gathering, creation, formation. They're all there, the author implies, seemingly to the degree we need them. This was God's promise through Isaiah, and it is God's promise for you today — whatever deep waters you traverse, whatever fire threatens to burn.
It's baptism week. God calls you by name. You are God's. Every week. Every day. Every hour. Through every river and every fire.
Redeeming God, you promise to be with us. Hold steadfast to your promise. Walk with me today. Protect me from all that threatens to consume me. Amen.