Downstream from Baptism

Amy Clemens

Read: Romans 6:3-8

When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land! (v. 3 Message)

Over the years I’ve enjoyed country music because it so often makes me laugh. One lyric I still chuckle over is Randy Travis’s “Pray for the Fish.” It describes the river baptism of a well-known troublemaker, and how when he goes under—not once, but twice for good measure—it’s the fish downstream who need prayer.

As far back as the early church, Lent was the time to prepare new believers for baptism on Easter. Even though “Pray for the Fish” is a musical joke, the question it asks is real: where does my sin go when I identify with Christ’s death and burial in the waters of baptism? According to God, it’s not just downstream; it’s “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). That’s some mysterious place we know nothing about, and it’s good to pause occasionally and remember the relief of the water flowing over us, cleansing, pure, and carrying a river of sin God only knows where—or perhaps he has forgotten that as well.

This is both Lenten preparation and Easter celebration: forgiveness, paid for by a sinless Savior, who was himself baptized and asks us to follow his lead. —Amy Clemens

Prayer: Resurrected One, thank you for the picture of burial in baptism. Coming up out of the water, you give me life resurrected! Help me come fully alive in this new country of grace.