Week 3 of Advent | Daniel Weatherby
Wednesday, December 19
“John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins” (Mark 1.4-5).
One of my good friends was recently baptized. My conversation with her about her journey to the banks of the Jordan allowed me the chance to remember my own. I have been baptized twice. I was twelve when I made my profession of faith and was baptized at Smoke Rise Baptist Church. The second came during a recent summer venture.
I was blessed to be able to spend three weeks of my summer studying in the Holy Land with the School of Religion. During our day of transition from the region of Galilee to Jerusalem we were given the opportunity to be baptized in the waters of the Jordan River (which looked surprisingly more like a creek). After some thought on what would be my second experience of baptism, I found myself sitting on a rocky step dangling my feet into the same water in which my Savior was baptized. To my right and left were people dressed in white robes, picturesque for baptism. Further down the bank there were people of various cultures; on this day, the banks brought people from India, Asia, Middle Eastern Countries, and other parts of America.
The shared expression of the eclectic newly-dunked Christians and onlookers was one of rejoicing; The Lord was obviously permeating the spirits of all who gathered. I, however, found myself flooded with angst in line to be baptized. “What does this (being baptized again) mean? Why am I not smiling? I am certainly not in the right mindset for this re-commitment, I mean Jesus was baptized in these waters . . . .” All of these thoughts flooded my head and screamed unworthiness. “
“And he preached, saying, ’After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie’” (Mark 1.7).
Even in a Spirit filled culture that preaches Grace I find myself climbing back onto the scale of (un)righteousness. Perhaps some of those from Judea and Jerusalem who gathered around John felt the same anxiety; little did they know that over the hill was coming the man who would break the measuring stick of their sins. To me, the river Jordan is a reminder of the vast diversity of people who gather with joy, anxiety, peace, and weariness, all to be washed clean. The Grace of Jesus that flows in the Jordan is the same, and covers it all.
“I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1.8).
Senior, Religion and the Arts Major
To download a digital copy of the 2012 Advent Guide, put out by Belmont’s School of Religion, click here.