Rain and Rainbows

I have never seen so much rain fall at once in my life as what we experienced Saturday and Sunday.  The normally dry creek behind our house was a rushing river with a fierce current.  Sunday I worshiped with Pleasant Heights Baptist Church in Columbia as we were wrapping up a Worship Renewal through Congregational Singing Conference there with music minister, Rush Harrison, and Pastor Bob Vasser.  Pastor Bob reminded his people Sunday that the Lord can speak in the midst of events including weather challenges like this.  He also noted he had never seen so much water and had been reflecting on the amount of water with a prayer that God would make Himself known.  He told of seeing a rainbow in one of the few moments of relief from constant rain.  What a powerful reminder that God always cares for us and desires to let us know of His greatness.  The pastor was obviously moved by the message he experienced firsthand in the reminder that God is the God of deliverance as richly symbolized in the beauty of a rainbow hanging in the sky as if drawn there by the very hand of the Almighty.

The torrential downpour of this weekend has reminded me of the juxtaposition of profound powers in water, and subsequently of spiritual application reflecting on its significance for Christians.  Water is a lifegiving substance.  It was somewhat ironic that in my home area, Franklin, TN, the first dispatched emergency crews were sent out delivering the highest priority request voiced by needful patrons, water.  In the midst of a death threatening flood of water, the need was for water.

Like Pastor Bob, I had passing thoughts this weekend of the flood to which Noah responded.  While I was not privy to the rainbow the pastor saw I did find myself thinking about the power that water represents in many respects of our faith as expressed in worship.  Sadly, we have come to think of the word, “baptism” for its quantitative value to represent church growth and by extension, evangelistic effect.  A first question related to the word for many pastors and church leaders is, “How many baptisms did you have last year?”  This is a question and concern of obvious legitimacy, but falls short of reflecting the real power of what the word is about.  Though Baptists have generally avoided sacramental leanings relative to water’s effect. it seems it should be acceptable to all that baptism provides a potent means of worship as it reflects the Gospel of Jesus Christ symbolized in its dramatic action before the church.  During this act the church welcomes in the new member of the family, a newborn believer who is “buried with Christ and raised to walk in newness of life,” and speaks by action of his/her testimony in these first steps in follow-ship.  What’s more, all present in worship, who observe this dramatic act, may be moved by the Spirit to either recall their own baptism and re-member their connection to the body of Christ in light of new life walking with Him, or (for nonbelievers) may be drawn to the Truth of this Gospel so dramatically displayed.  There is bold witness and proclamation of Gospel available in the dramatic act of baptism in worship!  WORSHIP LEADERS, LET’S MAKE MORE OF BAPTISM IN WORSHIP!

Touching and hearing water, considering its death power and the faith to plunge oneself under its influence could be profound connections for worshipers.  Consideration of water, such as in the Spirit hovering over the water before the world began (Gen1:2), the deliverance acts through the flood (Gen. 6-9), and through the Israelites escape from Egypt (Ex.15) and (1 Cor. 10:1-2), our birth through water and by the same means the birth and thus Incarnation of our Lord, Jesus’ own baptism in water by John (John 1), Jesus’ first miracle turning water into wine (John 2), Jesus’ reference to His provision of living water (John 4), the gushing of water mixed with blood from Jesus’ side at the cross (John 19:31-37), the gathering of all the Saints at the Crystal Sea (Rev. 22), and even the notion of thirst as the most basic of human needs all seem to hold rich opportunity for enhancing worship at the pool of water.[1] 

Baptist statesman, teacher and musician, Don Hustad, tells about an occasion when a pastor asked him to play the organ with sufficient volume to cover up the sound of the immersion noise.  He reflects, “In retrospect, it seems to me that the most prominent sound of the occasion should be that of the swirling water!”[2]  In a multi-sensory culture it seems we would do well to allow this most basic substance that God has made to speak its voice as to what God has done. 

Here in Tennessee we have seen something of water’s power in the last two days.  In Christian worship, we who serve as worship planners and leaders have opportunity to call worshipers’ attention to the One who created life and all its essentials.  In worship we can draw attention to the One Who gave us the rain and the rainbow.  We can sing to celebrate the Living Water and the one who pours out His Spirit and who demonstrates His power in as well as through phenomenon of nature.  We can call worshipers to higher praise for the Shepherd who leads us beside still waters, makes the storm clouds (Zach 10:1) and commands the storm to cease (Matt 8:27), and calls us to follow Him in baptism.

Drenched,

Paul


 

[1] Reggie M. Kidd, “Baptism’s Story,” (class notes and visual presentation to DWS 704 at the Institute for Worship Studies, 12 June, 2007).

 

[2] Donald P Hustad, Jubilate II: Church Music in Worship and Renewal (Carol Stream, IL: Hope Publishing Company, 1993), 351.

Explore posts in the same categories: Leading Worship, Singing Worship, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts

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