Thirsty: A Lament for Flint, Michigan

Baptism of Our Lord
January 10, 2016

How disturbing that just days before the Sunday when many Christian congregations recall and celebrate Jesus’ baptism, first the mayor and then the governor of Michigan declared a state of emergency in Flint, Michigan due to lead in the water supply (http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/12/16/459983352/michigan-mayor-declares-state-of-emergency-over-lead-levels). Now, people in Flint, Michigan face the fear and uncertainty of the Flint River’s “irreversible neurotoxins” said to be swimming in their children’s bloodstreams.

What do our liturgies’ words, prayers, and proclamations about the redeeming and cleansing power of baptismal waters mean in the face of tainted waters in Flint and other places around the globe? The story of Jesus’ baptism calls us to pay attention to the damage being done to our earth’s waters and, as a result, to human lives. Our own baptisms call us to lament, to speak out, to take action, to do what we can to restore and renew these watery playgrounds of silk-spinning caddisflies, river-dancing trout, and our beloved children.

God’s Spirit moved over the face of the waters in the beginning and imagined, created, stirred up life. How can we, God’s people, imagine, create, and stir up again living waters in desert places or in places where unclean water threatens life?

A Lament for Flint, Michigan on the Sunday of the Baptism of Our Lord

But now thus says the Lord, the one who created you, the one who formed you: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you. . .  (from Isaiah 43)

And she brought forth her first born child,
womb-waters splashing
hopes and tear-drenched dreams
infant life
baptized–
too soon estranged.

Spirit-sparked rivers unleashed
to dance and delight
now tainted
carrying
not-life
alien
uncertainties
“irreversible neurotoxins”
eroding pipelines
and trust
and tender souls.

We weep.
We wait.
We wail.
We wait.
God,
be with us.

Thirsty,
we wait.

She brought forth her first born child.

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