Friday, July 31, 2009

The Sounds of Salvation

I do not know what water “standing in a heap” sounds like.

Maybe there is turbulent, insulted groaning as the captured chaos chafes at its restraints: a dread warning and that, free, there will be wave after wave of loss, grief, tears. When the surly water is unleashed, in tsunami and flood, violently scaling its suddenly impotent banks, indeed there is wailing and weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Now and then, however, I am inclined to think that captured waters sing—that the deeps, sometimes, like the hills, are alive with the sound of powerful music.

What did the Israelites hear when God and Moses told them to go forward into the Sea? And the Sea was parted and the Children passed through the heaped-up waters? They may have been too frightened to hear anything at all besides their own panicked hearts, the whimpers of the children and aged. Perhaps their ears had room to hear nothing else.

When Joshua and the next generation crossed the Jordan? The waters stopped far above them, at Adam—the city that is beside Zarethan—and so maybe they did not hear anything either. But there must have been music, just as there was the other time, even if the people did not hear it, for God’s redemption is always accompanied by God’s singing, of course, a song sung by God for joy and love over people who have come home.

God is a warrior, the prophet Zephaniah says, whose victory is accompanied by rejoicing and gladness. God’s love is deliverance. It redeems, renews, and at such salvation God too bursts forth, busts a lung singing like a sailor over the redeemed. God jubilates, exults, exhilarates with “loud singing as on a day of festival “(3:17).

God is ever fighting to bring wayward and lost and exiled children home; and God is as happy about it as they when they finally arrive.

Waters heaped up, joining in the song. An image for Baptism, it would seem.

Here is another: in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, as a result of passing, barely, the first test of the Triwizard Tournament—he outwits the Hungarian Horntailed dragon—Harry takes possession of a golden egg holding a clue for the next contest. He opens the egg, only to hear deafening and terrible screeching and squalling. The mystery is unfathomable, as it were, until he immerses the egg, opens the egg under water. The water filters the awful screech, allows the merpeople’s singing to be heard for what it is: guidance and direction.

Just so, baptism is given to us to filter the world’s screech. It lets us hear God’s singing over his children come home. In the water, heaped-up into a shell or a hand, there is unrestrained music, the song of salvation.

+ + +

My first Sunday at my new church, I wept as the organist began to play. She masters a powerful instrument, and does so masterfully. “Surely this is the sound of heaped-up waters,” I said to myself. “Surely this is the sound of deliverance, of redemption, of salvation.”

1 comment:

Eremita said...

Wow. I had no idea where you were going. This one will be printed out. Thanks.