By Holly Strother-Waller
I watched Emma’s body come up out of the Jacuzzi-looking portable baptismal. The pandemic forced the church to get creative for our baptisms throughout the last year. Water splashed on to Worship center floor as she got out of the pool of water to get dried off.
The water continued to ripple with tiny waves as it tried to move within its contained space. People clapped as she made her way out the door, and as I looked back to listen to the church’s pastor dismissing service, I saw the waters in the Jacuzzi baptismal were moving.
Emma and the pastor were no longer in it, yet the water was still moving. I could not help but feel the same about the Spirit.
Over the last year, we have not been in the traditional church setting, yet the food pantry was still active. The pandemic canceled camp for youth and children’s ministries, yet we made connections. The Spirit moved when it seemed no one was present. When no one could be seen on the church campus, God was still working.
When the Israelites escaped their enslavement in Egypt and start their journey to freedom, they are meet immediately with a sea of challenges. The sea blocked them from freedom and trapped them in their place while the Egyptians gained on them. Moses lifts his staff and the water parts, and they walk on dry ground. God was in control of the water, and as the sea came back together, it crushed the Egyptian armies. The Israelites were safe and free. God provided that through a body of water. The water, the Israelites experienced, was unmovable, but when God was in control, the water became a mighty force. God was working in the waves and the stillness of the water.
As I look back at this last year, when it seemed as though the baptismal waters were still, the Spirit was always stirring the water. The pool was always full. The only problem is that we had created boundaries for how God’s power would find its way to the water.
I have always loved the moment when the new believer breaks through the water’s surface tension to hear the applause and joy that has overcome the worship center. Through these past months, God has reminded me to look back when everyone is gone and look at the water, the effects of Spirit, still moving one ripple at a time.
Holly Strother-Waller is a CBF Leadership Scholar and student at Gardner-Webb University Divinity School where she is working on her M.Div. and MA in Systematic theology. She is also the Minister of Students at Independence Hill Baptist Church.