Water, Water Everywhere

On one of the many bodies of water nearby, the Delaware River, during a recent sail on the Kalmar Nyckel.

On one of the many bodies of water nearby, the Delaware River, during a recent sail on the Kalmar Nyckel.

An outsider might not think that there are perks to being a pastor’s wife. I never thought I’d end up here, to be honest, being married to a pastor. As with any career, there are pros and cons to having your spouse be called to a life of spiritual shepherdry. Here are just a few:

Pro: You feel like God really hears your prayers because you’ve got an eloquent pray-er in your back pocket. (I do believe that God hears everyone’s prayers equally...but still, the more eloquent the better.)

Con: Sometimes, when I’m really hungry (read: hangry) I’d rather not take the time to bless the food. 

Pro: Speaking of food, lots of church people bring you meals, hold the baby... basically support and love you like you’re their family.

Con: Sundays can be long days. 

Pro: If you’re in a spiritual drought, you’ve got someone who not only knows and loves you intimately, but someone who knows and loves the one who made you intimately, and is trained in pastoral care, no less. Edwin’s good at helping me keep things in perspective.

Con: Travel to see my family is always impossible on Christmas. 

So, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Currently, my favorite part of being married to Edwin is dreaming big of what the church can do, especially in regards to planning worship and sermon series in particular. I know that sounds so dorky, but all we need for an awesome date night is a flip chart or a dry erase board for brainstorming! #lame

I haven’t always loved church, (more on that later) but these days, I really love weekly worship and the community that forms when people come together in Jesus’ name. People will say the church is dying, but I think it’s just changing, and it’s exciting to be part of that change.

It’s hard to pinpoint when and why my mind changed about this...it happened before I even met Edwin, actually. I think church used to feel at best like school—you dread going back, but once you get there it’s not so bad. And at its worst like a chore—a necessary evil to make your parents or grandparents happy. But now, since I started seeing church as a fueling station—a place to fill the tank after a long week, a place to gather all the things I need to satisfy me for the journey, a headquarters for the relief efforts sent into the world to help—I look forward to it. And being married to a pastor means having the ability to ask (or in some cases demand) all my questions about faith to be answered, and from the pulpit, no less.  

That’s what I think church should be most of all—a place to ask your questions and not feel like you’re screaming into an empty cave or met with angry glares, a place to come and be reminded that you are loved, no matter what you’ve done or failed to do. Lastly, a place where you can’t just stay the way you are, because encountering Love like that changes you.

The latest sermon series at Grace is called ICONS, and I feel the need to tell everyone that this particular line of preaching was my idea. I’ve wanted to have discussion around these topics for years.

Here’s the premise: “We live in a culture that values images--just think of social media, movies, and our ever-present phones.  We are surrounded by images that mean something to us, or might even offend us. We find several reoccurring images in the Bible that hold lots of meaning. What can they teach us about God, ourselves, and our world?”

Take for example, water... this week’s icon. What comes to mind when you think of Biblical images of water? Creation of the world, Noah and the flood, parting of the Red Sea, Moses striking the rock, Amos’ flowing torrents of justice, Jesus turning water into wine, Jesus with the woman at the well, Baptism, Psalm 1’s tree by the stream, Moses in the basket sent down the river, etc. etc. 

This archetypal image in the Bible would have spoken to ancient readers differently than it does us, right? Or maybe not? That’s what is so interesting. Water is a necessity for life for them, and us, even now... and so what is God saying in this....The Gospel According to Water? 

I like to imagine God and the other members of the Trinity sitting around brainstorming, too.

The use of this image is genius, in my opinion. The thing that makes it timeless is its connection to our daily life and sustenance. Each time we wash our hands, drink from the nifty water bottles that keep things cold for 12 hours, flush the toilet, take a shower, water the plants, listen to the rain...there is that epic story of God again. And yet, it’s a complex one. It is not just a feel-good image of flowing streams and thirst quenching liquids. For me, those stories of watery destruction keep interrupting the more idyllic images, and I don’t know what to do with them.  (As I type this, my family down south is battening down the hatches in preparation for Hurricane Florence, for goodness sake.) 

And yet, Jesus called himself the Living Water.

Maybe the reason why there are these contradictory images of water throughout the Bible is so we can get that Jesus is the ultimate thirst quencher and the place to go for a true deep (and yet gentle) steam clean. He’s got the water that will satisfy a thirsty ancient middle eastern woman (John 4), but also a 21st century pastor’s wife armed with a Brita filter and lots and lots of questions. This water that Jesus has is hot enough to clean us, but does not burn.  And can you imagine never being thirsty again? That’s an amazing story.

I hope you’ll join us on this journey through the Bible’s icons. What are the images of the Bible that mean the most to you: Light? Bread? Figs? Gardens? Salt? 

The ultimate pro of this life being so closely tethered to God’s church are all those in the boat alongside Edwin and me...that means you. Speaking of boats, Jesus walked on water! There’s another one!