Mark 1: 1-8
For a long time I have wondered why Jewish folks like those to whom John was preaching might seek out baptism—a concept I understood to be completely Christian. But the idea of baptism—literally ‘immersion’-—was not a new concept for Jewish believers. Ritual baths, or mikvehs, were a distinct Jewish purification practice in which a person could be fully immersed in natural spring or rain water to become physically and spiritually cleansed. Mikva’ots, the physical installation in which these baths took place, could be found in the basements, in the immediate area of the Temple Mount, and at the Bethesda and Siloam Pools (to the north and south of the Temple mount, these pools would have met the needs of thousands of pilgrims and disabled folks who could not enter the Temple). Construction of a mikva’ot was so important in ancient times that it would take precedence over the construction of a synagogue.
God of baptismal waters, give me eyes to see that your grace is always present, even in unexpected places.