Pastor David baptizing one of God’s children in Lake Mead.

Julie Hart’s weekly devotionals are now available via the website and on our app. They are published on Thursdays and have a new name, “From the Hart”.

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“From the Hart” Devotional for Sept. 21, 2023

“Come to the Water”
by Julie Hart, Director of Connectional Ministries

And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved,[a] with whom I am well pleased.’
Matthew 13:16-17

There is a song that I used to sing to my children (now grown men) when they were babies. I sang it them when they were fussy, sick, or just needing to go to sleep — so I sang it a lot! It is called “For Those Tears I Died” — though I always called it “Come to the Water.”

The chorus goes:
And Jesus said, “Come to the water, stand by My side,
I know you are thirsty, you won’t be denied;
I felt ev’ry teardrop when in darkness you cried,
And I strove to remind you that for those tears I died.”

They are simple lyrics that were written the year that I was born by a 16-year-old girl named Marsha. She wrote these words as a new follower still trying to understand what this love of Christ meant in her life. There is just something so calming about the thought of Jesus inviting us to come into the water, isn’t there? And something so comforting about the idea of standing right beside him. The thought of it can nearly bring one to tears.

Recently, I was invited to witness the baptism of someone from our Desert Spring family. She had been praying about it for a while and God had put it on her heart to be baptized on her birthday. And while as Methodists, we are generally just sprinkled with water, she wanted to be baptized in a body of water. So off to Lake Mead we went!

Once we got out to the lake and made our way down to the water, Pastor David read scripture and explained what the significance of the sacrament of baptism is in our faith. He shared how the act of baptism is an initiation into Christ’s holy church and how this act of salvation was giving her a new birth — all of which was a gift that was given freely.

Chances are if you’ve been going to church for a while, you have witnessed Pastor David baptizing a baby, child, or adult before. You have likely been in the congregation and asked to reaffirm your own faith and commit to nurture theirs. You were probably reminded of your own baptism — the time that you came to the water.

Many of you were baptized as babies or young children so you may not remember your baptism. But I was baptized as an adult, so I remember mine quite well. I was baptized on my 30th birthday by Pastor David at the church we were both serving at the time, University United Methodist Church. I was still a baby Christian — new in my faith and young in my understanding of what it meant to come to the water. That is before I understood that the pain that I would experience in the world and the tears that I would cry in my lifetime from the mistakes that I would inevitably make were the very tears that Christ had already died on the cross for.

Today and in the coming days, I invite you to remember not just your own baptism, but the baptisms that you have witnessed. I am betting that you have probably put a lot of work into rejecting evil, repenting of your sins, trusting God, serving the Lord, and living a Christian life. But how are you doing on your commitment to supporting the faith of those whose baptisms you have witnessed through the years?

When Jesus invites us to come to the water, I think the invitation isn’t just to dip a toe in or go for a quick swim. I think Christ longs for us to stay in the water where we are made new each and every day.

Some questions to think about:
What do you remember or what have you been told about your baptism?
If you haven’t yet been baptized, is this something that you want to know more about?
As you think about the baptisms you have witnessed, what have you done to help them in their journeys? Have you taught Sunday school? Invited into your group? Prayed with them?

Prayer:
Lord God,
Thank you for your invitation to come to the water to be washed clean and made new. Thank you for those who helped lead me to the water, and those who remain committed to helping me grow. Help me to remember the vows that I made to you, to myself, and to others. Let your living water fall afresh on me each day.
Amen.