Inconvenient Baptism

“…they were baptized by [John] in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” – Matthew 3:6

Ah, baptist at the riverbank, I come
to seek the power of the cleansing touch
of water and of Spirit and of fire.
Anneal my harrowed soul. Your words have burned
their way into my heart and mind and I
do not forget. Who warned me, John? Well, you.
You with your party-breaking summons to
the realization – hardly new but strong
in its familiarity – that I
have not kept steadily the prophet’s road,
which is not straight, not even close, but winds
through thickets and through thorns like serpent’s teeth.

I wanted, baptist, to step quietly
into the muddy waters, duck my head
in quick and studied piety, then stand
and melt into my ordinary life
once more as surely as the water dried
upon my skin. The water I might thus
ignore, but not your harshly calling voice.
I shiver and I listen and I plan:
to learn and follow, learn and follow, learn
and follow Christ more faithfully today.

A poem/prayer based on Matthew 3:1-12, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year A, Second Sunday of Advent.

The image is Saint Jean baptisant sur les bords du Jourdain by Nicolas Poussin (ca. 1630) – Notice sur le site du Getty, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15387068.

3 thoughts on “Inconvenient Baptism

  1. Powerful and — oh dear — it is exactly what I am trying to do, duck back into my busyness the minute I am back to the desk, “melt into my ordinary life.

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