Sunday, September 4, 2011

Unwashed masses yearning to be clean...

    I spent the weekend participating in ceremonies full of symbolism.  At a wedding the bride and groom mixed colored sand to show the intermingling and beauty of their new life together, then exchanged rings to visibly show that their marriage, like the metal on their fingers, would endure. On Sunday, our church baptized 11 people.  These were all just symbols, right?
   Yes, I suppose they were, but symbols intertwine with our lives.  Think of our national flag, of the Statue of Liberty, or your college's colors you wear on the weekend no matter even if you are a U of M fan.  They're not just a colored cloth, or a metal statue, or dyed sweaters.  Symbols mean something. I have worn a ring for 20+years; it is a symbol, but it is more than that, too.
    I was reminded during the baptisms today that I love the symbols of my faith. 
     Somewhere inside, all of us know we could be better.  As Switchfoot sings, "The sickness is myself - I've made a mess of me; I want to get back the rest of me."  Christianity is honest about this dilemma.  We feel dirty and unclean, and no amount of scrubbing we do seems to fix the problem.  Jesus offers to clean us up and set us free from the stain of our failure, our sin.  
     We read in the Bible of baptism as a symbol of commitment to Christ, but it is simultaneously a symbol God uses to send us a message, too:  We, the unwashed masses, can finally be clean.  Our feet are dusty; our clothes are soaked with sweat and grime; our faces are streaked with the trails of tears trickling through the dirt and shame on our faces.  
    Baptism shows the world our commitment to Christ, and reminds us of God's ability to make our hearts and lives new. 
     We, the once unwashed masses, can finally be clean in the ways that matter most. 
     And who can sing about this better than needtobreathe?


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