Pastor Shawn Hannon
Hope Lutheran Church, Arcade, NY
Shortly after buying my first home I realized everything I had learned about water in seminary was a lie. Water, they told us, was the source of life and essential for living. Water was beautiful and sacramental and holy. Grace falls like rain. Cups overflow. Justice flows like streams. Oh how lovely.
But as I stood in the stone basement of my 1915 house with 2″ of water at my feet, the romance was somewhat lost. When I discovered the flashing of the chimney had rotted and rain had been pouring into my attic for an undisclosed amount of time, I wondered. When I took my first shower in my new home (yes, the very first shower) and water began to drip in the office below, I became certain. Water was the enemy.
I spent 5 years attempting to tame the water in that house. We replaced all the plumbing. We knocked down the chimney and repaired the roof. We repointed the foundation. We paved the driveway and sloped it to push the water away from the building. Silicon caulk became my friend (thou I still can’t seem to apply it as beautifully as they do on HGTV). Owning a home became a relentless battle attempting to keep water in its place.
But somehow, water kept finding new ways to torture me. “Water always follows downhill,” the roof guy said as left the job. He was right, but I also found out later that ice dams have no problem sneaking up. Slow leaks hiked up water bills. Water found its way through every untidy caulk line, and into every unwanted place.
Of course my seminary was right about more than one thing, but one thing it didn’t underestimate about water is that it could not be stopped. Perhaps that is why it is the best metaphor for grace. Perhaps that is why the waters of baptism are the place where we see the outpouring of God’s love so clearly.
Water cannot be tamed. Look at nature. A stream carved the Grand Canyon. Glaciers formed Finger Lakes. Rains cause mudslides and flooding. Water always wins.
And that, among all of the ways water is like grace, is most important of all. It always wins. It always finds us. It behaves expectedly, until it does something new and meets us again. It sneaks past our defenses. It cannot be stopped.
Owning a home taught me that water is untamable, and Scripture teaches us that nothing cannot stop God’s grace. Not heights, depths, powers, rulers, angels, life or death! (Romans 8). So grace is like water, but not simply for all of the pretty and practical ways we imagine, but also because of its power and persistence. God loves you, and that love will not be stopped.
For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.