Academic journal article The Hymn

"Living Water"

Academic journal article The Hymn

"Living Water"

Article excerpt

Westermeyer, Paul. "Living Water." Word & World 32, no. 1 (Winter 2012): 7-14.

Paul Westermeyer's article describes how all the parts of baptism-water, Word, font, space, hymns-together make up the whole that is baptism. He begins with Carl Schalk's reflection on Jaroslav Vajda's "God of the Sparrow," describing both the "beneficent" and "ominous" aspects of water, all of which are contained in baptism. The article then quotes two prayers, one from the baptistery at St. John Lateran in Rome (fifth century) and one from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006) which highlight the importance of both water and Word.

Westermeyer then moves to explore fonts and the water contained within them. In addition to describing the different shapes of fonts, he stresses the importance that they "enclose 'living water'" (8). Quoting the work of Edward Sövik, Westermeyer includes a passage that describes why fonts (meaning "fountain or spring") should include "moving water": it is called for in the Didache and Apostolic Tradition; it makes a stronger association with Jesus' baptism; and it is a better metaphor of God's grace.

Westermeyer also describes the spaces that hold these fonts, decorated with symbols of baptism (e.g., dying, rising, journey) and the Lord's Supper (e.g., wine, wheat), with the caveat that we, the people of God, are the church and "we are the temples," not these spaces. He also points out the need for both the word of God and the physical elements (water and Word) to be present in this space, or "word house" (based on Luther's Mundhaus, "mouth-house") (9). …

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