WATER ON MAN IN RESTAURANT
Did you ever eat dinner in a nice restaurant all by yourself?
You walk in and say “table for one” and the hostess or maître d give you that look.
And then after you are seated, the waiter comes with that disappointed look because you just cut his tip potential in half.
And the other diners around you do sneak a pitying or curious peak at you.
Kind of like the way people would look at you if you say “No, I can’t be there because I go to church on Sunday morning.”
You just stand out as a bit odd.
So, many years ago I was in the City by myself and decided to have dinner sitting down and at a table with a table cloth.
And I was getting all those looks and the glances until a couple at another table took center stage.
I have to confess that one of the things that I find myself doing when I dine alone is watching and listening to the other diners who are not alone –
which may be why are uncomfortable with single diners.
But I had noticed that this couple was having some heated conversation.
Not that they were being loud.
I couldn’t actually hear what they were saying, but I didn’t need to.
I could just tell they were yelling at each other in hushed voices.
They had stopped eating and she was using her fork to symbolically jabbing him in the chest with every sentence.
And I guessed he must have been guilty of whatever she was accusing him of because he was not jabbing back – yet.
When she finished whatever it was she was saying, the fork hit the table with a firm thud while their eyes were locked on each other.
He then said something to her very quietly.
I could not hear it, but it did not matter, clearly it was the wrong thing to say because the woman immediately stood up and without a second of hesitation doused him with her entire glass of water.
He was soaked.
And before he had recovered enough to respond, she was gone –
Almost disappeared, really,
because everyone’s attention was on him.
And no one moved.
Not the waiters and waitresses,
not the guests at the other tables.
Everything came to an immediate grinding halt and there was silence throughout the place.
For about 3 seconds, and then everything went back to normal.
Now this could have been because it was New York City, but I think it was more because no one was feeling sorry for the guy.
Which they might have had she dumped his plate in his lap.
Tossing the water at him said something different.
I think everyone assumed that he was a schmuck who got what he deserved and so he could sit there embarrassed about being soaking wet.
EMBARRASSED- SOAKING WET IN CHURCH
And if you are not in a bathing suit, there is something especially embarrassing in our culture about being soaking wet.
I mean if you came waltzing into Grace this morning soaking wet we would all be like
Or perhaps we would more indignantly wonder, “what’s his problem?”
Of course, the first thing we would do is offer you a towel dry off with.
Which is what the waiter quickly did for that guy in the restaurant.
And the check,
making it obvious it was time for him to go.
But let’s say you came into Grace this morning dripping wet and refused our offer of a towel and an escort to the bathroom to dry off.
What if you came in and sat right down in here and didn’t move?
Some of us might be irritated that you were getting the pew wet
and dripped all over the floor
and maybe even getting the people next to you wet
and then if you came up for communion you would be soaking the carpet and
leaving water spots on our beautiful wooden Communion Rail.
Perhaps we might also concerned about whether you will catch cold from sitting around in wet clothes.
Because, really, being soaking wet is also dangerous to your health.
Unless, as I said, you are wet in properly controlled situations;
like when it is hot outside or
you are in a heated pool, or a hot tub, or
you are in your bathtub or your shower
– carefully regulated situations that are designed to ensure a proper, healthy, and acceptable
– not at all embarrassing or dangerous –
experience of being wet.
ACT & SPEAK
Which may be the way we like to wear our baptism as well.
Since today is the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, we are going to affirm our own Baptisms in just a few minutes.
And while we confess our faith together with the Apostles Creed,
I will take this evergreen branch,
Dip it in the Baptismal Font and cast a few drops of water over your heads as a more tactile experience of remembrance.
As I was planning this out earlier this week, I toyed for just a few minutes with the idea of switching out this evergreen branch for a 5 gallon bucket!
Not because I wanted to embarrass you,
but because it would have made a great point.
I mean just imagine if I hit Dan and Maria/Victor and Nancy in the back of the head with a bucket of water instead a few sprinkles from a branch!
What would have happened?
My bet is that you would have jumped up and said “what are you doing?”
Which would have been great because this is exactly what Jesus does after he is baptized and receives the Holy Spirit,
he jumps up and starts speaking.
That rarely happens at a baptism here – mostly because those getting baptized can’t speak or walk yet,
but when we can, this is what we are to do.
Our baptismal life is one of action and words,
doing the good and just works of the Kingdom and
speaking the words of hope and love, faith and salvation.
Not exactly what you would mostly likely say if I hit you with a bucket of water, but it would illustrate the point.
WE WANT TO DRY OFF
And then you would most likely try to dry yourself off.
Which is exactly what happens in the Christian life too,
we tend to want to dry off,
we tend to want to modify and moderate the identity that we have been given in baptism,
to make the Christian life more palatable and acceptable,
not so radical and embarrassing.
And it also a great illustration of what happens to Jesus, because after he is soaked in baptism he heads deeper into the wilderness where the devil is waiting to hand him a towel.
And Jesus does not take it.
PLANS NOW GOVERNED BY THE WATER
The other thing that would have happened had I poured dumped 5 gallons of water on you is that your plans for what you were going to be doing in the next few minutes and even few hours would have been changed.
You thought you were going to sit here all nice an comfortable and
listen to a sermon and
sing a hymn and
have communion, and
enjoy some rolls and coffee at fellowship,
maybe go out for lunch and
stop at the grocery on the way home.
All of the would have been figuratively blown out of the water and the water would have taken control of your agenda.
It would have been all about
wet clothes and
a wet coat,
a wet car and
getting home to put them in the wash or
if it was dry clean only, perhaps even in the trash and
then getting on dry clothes and
steaming about what that crazy Pastor did and
maybe even leaving the church or
writing the Church Council a letter about how insensitive and embarrassing it all was.
The agenda of your life would have been taken out of your hands and governed by the water.
Which is what God really hopes for us in baptism.
God wants you to remain soaked in the midst of the culture that only wants to dry you out.
God wants you risk being embarrassment because of your good works and gospel words.
God wants everyone to see and know the point He has made by dousing you with water and announcing that you are His beloved.