Sharp About Your Prayers

the challenges, absurdities, and joys of an urban faith

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How’s the Water?

January 9th, 2014 · No Comments · Faith and the City

Dehydrated WaterOne of my former colleagues, Stan Hall, kept an assortment of bottles in his office. It was his water collection. Containers of various shapes and colors held Stan’s special waters. There was a plastic bottle of spring water blessed by Pope John Paul II. There was a bright blue flask of “caffeinated” water. There was even a tin of dehydrated water—just add water and you’ll get….

My favorite piece in Stan’s collection was a clear medicine bottle. In it, tiny clusters of algae floated in murky liquid. The hand-printed label read, “Jordan River Water.”

Stan explained that this small bottle once belonged to a pastor who had smuggled it back from the Holy Land. He used its muddy contents to add “authentic flavor” to worship. You see, every time this pastor would perform a baptism, he would contribute a few precious drops of Jordan River water to the baptismal font.

Now, don’t worry, the water used for baptism at FAPC has no exotic additives. It comes straight from the spigot—“New York’s Finest”—a source that is both hygienically safe and theologically suitable.

BottleStill, Stan’s algae-filled bottle makes me wonder. Surely, the pastor with his eyedropper knew that there is nothing magical about water from the Jordan River. It has no special properties—no distinctly Christian qualities—that make it any more holy than safely chlorinated tap water. Water is water. Surely, that pastor knew, as he measured out each treasured tear, that any old water would do for a baptism?

This Sunday we are going to be talking about the sacred power of water.

Join us and bring a friend as we go down by the river to pray!


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