“as a gift from the spring of the water of life,” (Rev. 21:6)
We start each morning on the bus with a devotional. Friday’s devotional was a meditation on the days before and looking forward to the continuing journey ahead, with a theme around ‘journey’ or ‘pilgrimage’. I would like to share with you our devotional:
Many who are Journeying in the Footsteps with the LSTC World of the Bible tour this Maymester 2013 have made pilgrimages of varying sorts over the years: the Holy Land, del Camino de Compostela, seminary and candidacy, career to retirement, family change and growth. In the case of seminary and candidacy: we learn a new word on this journey to describe the process of formation seminarians go through. The word is liminal.
I think we all live in a liminality. A journey or pilgrimage. This is our baptismal liminality or baptismal journey. So here we all are. In Turkey. And at one point, we were invited to consider naming what we’re about in Turkey as... pilgrimage.
Pilgrimage. Journey. Liminality. These are all part of a continual baptismal process. So that baptismal process is what we’re about here in Turkey, as we Follow in the Footsteps.
This morning, we awoke on the shores of the Aegean Sea. On the balcony, I could hear the wind and feel it and see it on the water. I saw it change from calm to gusty as the sun rose. Adn somewhere birds said ‘good morning’ and so did a reasonably persistent rooster.
I thought of yesterday: as we came out of the Terrace Houses of Ephesus that overlook the whole city remains of the ancient city, as you looked off to the left, behind the city to the west, you could see where the sea had been. This was before the population of Ephesus had to return across the hill and plain back to the original Ephesus of very ancient times, where the modern city still is situated today. You could just make out a marsh--a wetlands area, with green marsh-grass and swamp and a bit of water sparkling between. This was a marsh on the Aegean Sea, separating Ephesus from anything resembling navigable water.
So what with seas moving and pilgrimages (people moving) across Turkey and change of baptismal liminality, I came to this text: Revelation 21:1-6:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.”
And in reading this, I recalled our day’s journey of the day before. I went from “the sea that was no more” to “God’s home being among people” to God’s gift of water from “the spring of the water of life.” And I thought of Ephesus III, the large ruins with the marsh behind, over the ridge behind the library--the sea that was no more. I thought of modern day Ephesus, also the most ancient Ephesus, with the Basilica of St. John, built after the population relocated back around the hill, across the plain to the place where the city had once been in the first place. And then to the Basilica’s baptismal font, added sometime after the Basilica was built. Where several of us journeyed through the font in remembrance of our baptism. Where once lay the “spring of the water of life.”
I invite you then to think of your journey. What are your places of baptismal liminality? Consider your seas Your sea that is no mores And your spring, the water of life, where God is nourishing you and making you new ...as God is making all things new, the Alpha and the Omega. Making to ‘pass away,’ and ‘dwelling with mortals, wiping tears from their eyes, and refreshing, even and especially, in the parched and dead places, our communities and our lives. Giving the gift of water of the spring of the water life.
Let us pray. Blessed are you Lord God, Creator of the universe, for you have made the seas. As seas recede and advance, to make places of life, restoring to wholeness (sozo) the diversity of your creation, so restore us your creatures to life and wholeness, that, thirst quenched with the water of life, we may serve you in newness of life, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
M.Div 2013 Graduate, LSTC