Life is not tried
it is merely survived
if you’re standing outside the fire.
(Garth Brooks, “Standing Outside the Fire”)

I’m cruising on the RevGalBlogPals’ Big Event 12.0, and the Rev. Angie Shannon — making use of Garth Brooks’ lyrics — reminded the group in opening worship that the fire (the Fire) does not change us if we remain outside it.

Which sounds a lot like John the Baptist’s description of baptism-by-Jesus (compared to baptism-by-John and baptism-by-any-of-the-rest-of-us):

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
(Luke 3:16)

Like it or not, baptism-by-Jesus means that we need to immerse ourselves in the fire. The Fire. And there will be burning.

(Isaiah 43:2 says, “When you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the fire shall not consume you.” That’s poetic and optimistic, but I’d point out that it’s not exactly accurate to how fire/Fire works.)

The Fire is fierce. The Fire is untamed. The Fire is powerful, it flashes and sparks, it thunders and roars, it strips the forest bare (Psalm 29). Who can stand when faced with such a force? Who can remain aloof from the furious activity of the threshing floor? Who among us can be anything but fully immersed, engulfed, baptized by the Fire? What prayer is to be found in the midst of the Fire, except to remain with the Beloved?

How is your sermonizing coming along this week, RevGals & Pals, as you prepare for Baptism of Christ Sunday in the Revised Common Lectionary? Are you working with the image of fire … or the image of water … or both? Any multi-sensory tools & ideas that you’d like to share with your colleagues (small bonfire in the baptismal font? kiddie pool with water in the aisle?)?

Add your notes, encouragement, questions, idea requests, blog links, and more in the comments as we work toward Sunday’s sermon!


Rachel G. Hackenberg‘s book with co-author Martha Spong, Denial Is My Spiritual Practice (and Other Failures of Faith), strives to make sense of faith through the trials & failures of life. Rachel has also written Writing to God and Sacred Pause.


RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

2 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Immerse

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