Take a bath this morning, please

To say it has been fun to have my grandchildren, five year old Keegan and two year old Nola in my life is an understatement. It has been over 20 years since my children were their age. I had forgotten how preschool kids can be overjoyed with things that have stopped being exciting for me long ago. Eating out at Taco Bell, always cool for Keegan and any kind of meal gets an enthusiastic response from Nola. They both don’t simply enjoy church, they get excited when they pull into the parking lot. I like church, obviously, but it has been a while when I walked in saying, yes, church!
Taking a bath or shower is another one that ranks much higher on their enthusiasm meter than it does for me. For Keegan and Nola, the bathtub is like a playground with water. They got toys in the tub, and bubbles, they giggle and pretend. Yes! We get to take a bath tonight! Adults are rarely that enthusiastic about baths. It is something we do in order to do something we are probably not looking forward to doing. Aaah, I got to take a bath before I go to my cousin’s wedding.
Last Saturday when Paige and I were watching Keegan, she said with an exhausted voice and no enthusiasm, I have to take a bath before we go to Krogers. You’ve got Keegan. I was actually reading the paper and drinking my morning coffee, so when Keegan asked to play the board game Trouble, I said no without looking up. I think I remember him saying, maybe grandma wants to play. I might have said, hmmm, maybe. I can’t be sure. The next thing I heard was Paige scream. It seems Keegan found Paige while she was showering in our cramped glass shower stall, sudsing her hair with her eyes closed. When Paige opened her eyes, there was Keegan pressed against the glass looking at her, making sure it was her I guess. Paige, in language not fit for a grandmother or church, asked him to leave the bathroom. Typical in marriage, somehow this was my fault.
Adults see baths as something that has to get done so that we don’t offend our neighbors. Baths are a necessity to wash away the crud that accumulates on our body. Sooner or later, we all need a good bath to wash everything away. God seems to think the same thing, at least that is one way to read the Noah story. Of course, the story is far more ominous when we realize the crud in our analogy is humanity. God simply seems fed up in this ancient story from Genesis, tired of the beloved creation being soiled by us. In the part of the story we read this morning, I always get the idea that God has remorse for the radical scrubbing of the earth that left countless dead. For sure, God promises never to give creation a bath like this again. The rainbow in the sky means that God has made peace with humanity. Though we may stink up the place again, God won’t turn on the faucets and walk away as happened before.
Reading the Noah story with Jesus glasses, God’s promise not to clean up and restore creation with a flood does not mean God has given up on restoring creation. God comes to us in Jesus to give the world a bath. Jesus reveals the new creation God has in store for all of us in the resurrection. Jesus reveals the path to that resurrection is a bath, like the Noah story, but instead of all of the world going into the tub, just humanity, one by one, in our own baptisms gets scrubbed. God’s hope is that all of us would get as excited about this bath as a five year old.
We need to bathe every day, both literally and in this spiritual way. While we don’t need to be baptized every day, once is enough, we need to remember our baptism daily, confess the gunk that is on us, and ask God to restore us again to that original hope. I like to think of this as living wet. Jesus was literally wet from his baptism when he was tempted in the wilderness by the devil. The world was literally soggy when Noah was tempted after the floods had receded. Living wet, remembering our first bath daily, washing in God’s love and forgiveness every day, is the best way to fight the temptations that would lead us away from God’s hope.
We can live wet by starting our day with confession. Waking up each and every day and saying, God thank you for washing me, cleansing me, restoring me. Now, cleanse me again. I confess these sins. Then say them aloud at home. There is something powerful that leads to wholeness when we say sins aloud. Then hear these words in your head. God, through the gift of Jesus Christ has forgiven all of us our sins and restored us. Because of Jesus, and through the waters of our baptism, all of our sins are forgiven, in the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Now, live the rest of the day, trying not to get so dirty.
When we start our day wet and an unexpected temptation comes, it might be easier to trust God and God’s promises. How we handle temptation determines whether the ripples of sin and brokenness spread and grow or dissipate and end. I don’t know about you, but when people call me angry, I can get defensive and angry myself. This is a temptation that I fight. The argument escalates, hard things are said that can’t be unsaid, hate and distrust are sown, crud builds up that can be hard to scrub away from our lives. I had one man explode on me in my last church. We were shouting by the end. Our relationship was never able to be repaired.
Similarly, in this church, I was stopped by someone angry about something I had said. They were mad. This time it went differently because I had already confessed out loud to God that I had misspoken and sinned. I had taken a bath that morning and I was wet. In fact, I was actually trying to get up the courage to call him to apologize. When I did unequivocally after his outburst, it changed the entire conversation. There was no argument, like before. There was no escalation. There was no break in our relationship, which is strong and loving to this day.
Keegan and Nola love to take baths. They love to be wet. Maybe, this is something we can learn from our children and grandchildren. Let’s live our lives wet. Daily remembering our baptism, by reflecting on who we have been, how we have fallen short, and hearing the promise of God to restore us. Living wet will not only comfort us in the love of God. Living wet will protect us when we are tempted to stray from that love. Amen

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