Destructive and Cleansing Power of Water

Ron Burcham, Pastor, Risen Savior Lutheran Church

As I write this article, I am sitting in my office, nothing unusual about that except I have not been able to sit in my office for six months! On Sept. 10, 2019, the Church Administration Building of Risen Savior flooded. A six-inch water main burst, and filled up a storage closet until the pressure was so great that it blew the door off of its hinges! This resulted in thousands of gallons of water spilling into every room in the building. I can still picture the river flowing out the front doors, carrying with it every kind of debris.

The destructive power of the water is incredible. It permeates every crevice and crack. Even though the water was turned off relatively quickly and the restoration crew was on site within hours of the flood, the destruction was enormous. The drywall on every wall had to be cut three feet up from the floor and replaced, carpet—ruined, granite floor of the lobby—destroyed. It took six months, numerous crews, and endless decisions to get the building back to where we can occupy it. So, the fact that I am sitting in my office writing this article is significant.

As destructive as the water was to our building, it also had a cleansing element to it. No, I am not talking about the fresh coat of paint, the new carpet, and all that had to be replaced. I am thinking of the cleansing that took place when we moved back. Speaking for myself, there was some purging going on as I unpacked. Scraps of paper that defy explanation of why I kept them, empty boxes—again, why did I feel the need to hold onto them, files that were no longer needed, and the list goes on. The top of my desk hasn’t looked this clean since… well the first time I moved into my office!

When I think of the role of water in the Bible, I see the same destructive and cleansing power at work. In the great flood recorded in the book of Genesis, God uses water to cleanse the world of sin and corruption. Then in I Peter 3:19-20 we read; “…eight persons were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” In baptism, because of Jesus, we are purged of all that is bad — we are cleansed. Although baptism is a one-time event, Martin Luther once said that each time we wash our face, we can remember our baptism. As we wash away the dirt of the day, we can remember that God has washed away the dirt of our life, the things we regret and wrongs that we have done.

Now let me sit back and admire this very clean desk!