Sixth Sunday of Easter John 15:9-17

Waters applauding. Hills singing. What nonsense is this?  The readings for today all seem to have a lot to do with water.

The baptism of a whole household, which we hear in the book of Acts (10:44-48) – not because they professed a deep knowledge and understanding of this whole Jesus thing but because they heard the Word of the Lord. The Spirit of God filled them to the brim and they could not help but rejoice. And so they were baptized, by water and the spirit.

The psalm for today (98) is categorized as an enthronement psalm, one that speaks of God the eternal righteous judge. The imagery of the psalm is the sound of the whole world and all that is in it exploding with joy. This is the great cosmic harmony that God offers us, the music of the spheres for which our souls hunger and thirst.

4 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises. 7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who live in it. 8 Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy 9 at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

This is what it feels like when the Spirit of God saturates everything. Like water soaking into a parched earth. Like rain that falls not with a devastating storm tearing off roofs and destroying lives, but like a long and steady shower that brings new life where once there was nothing. Water and the Holy Spirit.

And as we wind down our time in the letter of First John (5:1-6), we hear, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandment.” We who believe that Jesus is the Son of God: “This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ.” See? Water everywhere.

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love.” Here is Jesus the Teacher pleading with his students in the last hours of his life. Abide in God’s love. Dwell in it. Pitch your tent in it. Let it surround you. Drown in God’s love! And you will feel the Holy Spirit dwelling in you when I am gone.

4 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises. 7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who live in it. 8 Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy 9 at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

God’s equity is always grounded in God’s infinite mercy and love. When God returns to judge the world, it will not look like the People’s Court. It will look like … well, it will look like what happened the last time the Spirit of God moved over the surface of the waters. All the way back to Genesis 1. And so we can look forward to the time when God will return to judge the world, to make order out of chaos once again.

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

It’s not cause and effect. It’s effect and cause. We are already abiding in Jesus’ love. Therefore! We cannot help but keep his commandments. We can’t help it. We rejoice in those commandments because we know them for what they are: God pleading with us to walk in God’s way, because when we do, we abide in God’s love. The commandments are an expression of God’s love, an invitation to know the indwelling spirit of God. And that starts at the font of baptism.

We believe, and we teach, that baptism is not about us taking the first step toward God. The sacrament of baptism, in the Lutheran church, is all of creation exploding with joy at the awareness that the one being baptized is already a child of God. It’s a recognition that God has claimed us as God’s own and how do we respond? We dance with joy.

Baptism? This is God inviting us to join the dance.

One-two dance for joy, three-four clap your hands. We’re up to our necks in the love of God. We’re drowning in it. Instead of being afraid of drowning, we are reminded – God is ever reminding us – that we can swim. That we get to spend our entire lives in the covenant of God’s endless mercy and infinite love. That we are able to “walk wet” – to live each moment of each day in wide-eyed recognition that God has poured the waters of creation over us and that we belong to God. First, last, and always.

So what about this business of Psalm 98? What about the flood waters clapping and the hills singing for joy because the Lord will come to judge the earth? That will be when the end of all time meets the beginning of all time, the moment in the waters of creation when God made order out of chaos.

During the season of Easter, in place of confessing our sins and receiving forgiveness, we affirm our baptisms. We are reminded that over and over again in God’s walk with the people of God throughout history, there is water, water, everywhere. The waters of the flood were our salvation. The water in the desert, that was our salvation too. The waters of baptism are not us moving toward God but are a joyful recognition that we are already God’s beloved children and that we gladly claim that relationship. We are “walking wet,” remembering the gift of baptism every day. And so yes! Yes! Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together.

Because when we come at last to the place where the music of the spheres, the great cosmic harmony of God’s love in all eternity, surrounds us and holds us forever, we will be judged with God’s mercy, which is endless, and God’s love, which is a flood of joy in which we gladly drown.