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.
Isaiah 43:1-7 (NRSV)
1 But now, this is what the LORD says-- he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' and to the south, 'Do not hold them back.' Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth--
7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made."