“But when the goodness of loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7
The Kenyans are very hospitable. While food is not overly abundant, they will make sure that when you visit them, you do not leave hungry. Most of the time when eating at the Rescue Centers, you will have a meal of range chicken, kale, and ugali. The ugali is a thick porridge you shape in your hands like a spoon. With your hands, you dip the ugali into the chicken broth and kale and eat it this way. You use your fingers to eat this meal, and it can become a little messy.
Before you enter the building in which you will eat, someone will be outside with a pitcher of warm water, a basin, a bar of soap, and a towel. You place your hands over the basin, and someone pours the water over your hands as you wash with soap, and then as you rinse. You are then handed a towel to dry your hands. After the meal (eating without fork or spoon) the same process takes place outside so that your hands are clean once again.
The Greek word Baptidzo means “to wash.” This was a word used in everyday life to wash the dishes, to wash your hands, or to wash your clothes. You would “baptize” your hands, in that, you would “wash” them. Of course, the word “baptize” means much more to the Christian. Surely it means “to wash” – but the washing goes deeper than cleaning the hands; it is the washing away of sin from the body, life, and soul. No amount of soap and water, whether in the United States, Kenya, or anywhere else can cleanse us from our sins. Only the water of Christ, that flows from His pierced side (water and the Word of God) can cleanse us and make us clean before God.
Our brothers and sisters in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya share the same water-cleansing as us -the water of Holy Baptism makes us clean, which makes us children of God in Christ Jesus. Whether you’re going to Kenya in June or not, this bath from God is cleansing for us all. Daily, our sins are washed away. Daily we are the children of God in Christ Jesus. And daily we are united to Christ and to all those who bear the sign of Christ both upon the forehead and upon the heart, making us redeemed by Christ the crucified and risen from the dead.
The next time you wash your hands before or after a meal – remember, the greater washing is being Baptized into Christ.