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  • Writer's picturejosie

Wild Wonder October 11: Wade in the Water

Incarnation families are gathering on Sunday mornings at 9:30am in Alcova Heights Park—or at home, or in another lovely natural spot—for a casual time of family prayer and nature exploration. This fall, we’re enjoying art, music, and nature together, and we’re pondering Jesus’ maxims or "great sayings."

Attempting to sneak up silently on Darin, with instructions from our middle schooler who is also a forest survival expert!

Here's this week's verse:

...when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. Matthew 6:6a

Kind of an odd instruction to consider as we gather as families and as a community to pray together!

  • Why do you think Jesus gave this teaching? What did he mean?

  • What could praying in secret have meant to the people who heard this, in their context in the first century Roman Empire?

  • What could it mean for us today—in general, and in the middle of a pandemic when we don’t have many opportunities for praying in public?

For younger kids (under 6), instead of the questions above, ask: How do you like to pray? Singing, quiet, together . . . When do you like to pray? At bedtime, at church, while you play . . . might be an interesting little chat!

Wade in the Water

This month’s song is another spiritual popularized by the Fisk Jubilee Singers. The song has legendary links to Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. (Do you hear the possible coded instructions, to keep dogs off the scent by moving off trail, into the water?)

Wade in the water;

Wade in the water, children

Wade in the water;

God's a-gonna trouble the water

Who's that young girl dressed in red

Wade in the water

Must be the children that Moses led

God's a-gonna trouble the water

Who's that young girl dressed in white

Wade in the water

Must be the children of the Israelite

God's a-gonna trouble the water

Wade in the water,

Wade in the water, children

Wade in the water,

God's a-gonna trouble the water

Who's that young girl dressed in blue

Wade in the water

Must be the children that are coming through,

God's a-gonna trouble the water

Wade in the water, wade in the water children

Wade in the water,

God's a-gonna trouble the water

Wonder All Week

With younger kids, enjoy the song! The verses lend themselves to an I Spy game: find a red, white, or blue object when you name each color.

As you listen and sing as a family, there’s an opportunity for older kids and adults to investigate:

  • Look at the Exodus 14 account of Moses’ and the Israelites’ escape from Pharaoh across the sea.

  • Then, in the New Testament, check out John 5:1-9, about a man waiting for miraculous healing by the Bethesda pool.

  • How does "Wade in the Water" reference each of these stories? How, do you imagine, did this song develop?

What does it mean to wade in the water? We’ve seen the way kids of all ages are drawn to the creek at Alcova Heights Park. No matter the weather.

  • Over the summer, we thought about Jesus as Living Water—and what water is, what water does for us. Talk again about water’s cleansing, refreshing, powerful, life-giving properties.

  • Some family members might make the association with the waters of baptism. What happens in baptism? Can you connect baptism with this song or these Old and New Testament stories?

  • So much for our own actions (wading). What does it mean that God will trouble the water?

More on the Fisk Jubilee Singers. I’m hoping to watch this episode of American Experience: Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory (PBS Passport subscription required). The show's webpage alone offers fascinating links, including sheet music and profiles of some of the original Fisk Jubilee Singers. Did you know:

Established in January 1866, Fisk [University] taught freed slaves how to count their wages, how to write the new names they had chosen for themselves, and read both the ballot and the Bible.

The singers—“all but two of them former slaves and many of them still in their teens”—took on a grueling tour to raise money for their University. By tour's end, they'd sung for Mark Twain, President Grant, and Queen Victoria.

"In their wake, hotels, railways, steamship lines, and boards of education integrated their facilities. The Jubilees not only introduced the world to the music of black America, they championed the liberties of all Americans," says Andrew Ward, co-writer of the documentary.

I’ll stop quoting the entire article. Check it out!

For the music lovers: here’s a nice piece about traditional spirituals’ influence on the jazz music that followed, including an instrumental “party-like-it’s-Exodus performance” of "Wade in the Water" by Ramsey Lewis.

Service opportunity!

Men, women, and children traveling the Underground Railroad . . . Israelites fleeing from bondage in Egypt . . . the Holy Family fleeing TO Egypt to escape Herod’s infanticide. . . wow. May these refugee stories remind us of the travelers in our midst, many of whom have fled heartbreaking, dangerous conditions.

Our outreach partner Restoration Immigration Legal Aid assists families applying for asylum here in the United States, and our youth are putting together much-needed grocery and hygiene bags for RILA clients next week.

To contribute, sign up here and drop off by Sunday, October 11. More details here.


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