Baptism

19 Jun

This past Sunday I was honored to perform a baptism for a young woman who has been attend St. Paul’s UMC. She is in her late twenties and has seen more hardships than many of us will experience in a life-time. For me, there was a true sense of the power of God to transform lives and a beautiful gift of new life in Christ.

This Sunday’s lectionary reading from Romans explores this very subject.

That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!

3-5 That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.

6-11 Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.

I like one of the last lines particularly, “Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word.”

What if we really believed this? That our old lives, lives of sin, meanness, jealously, envy, anger, etc. . . can be dead. Dead by God’s power. And we can have a new life, free from stress, full of love and grace and gentleness. I believe it is possible if we will yield to God.

Also, that we never need to fear anything. We have already died in Christ, what’s left to fear. And if we have died in Christ, the life we now live is in the power of God. What’s left to fear???

I think if we took seriously the power that Paul is writing about we would be a different type of Christian and a different type of Church. The freedom in Christ to dwell deep in the love and grace of God has been given to us. We just have to let our old selves die and accept this new and wonderful life.

When I got sick in my 40s with food allergies, I found corn products caused lots a pain. Someone, who had similar problems, asked me how I had gotten well after being so sick and I told her about giving up corn and corn by-products. She said she loved corn too much and could possibly give it up. I said, “even if it made you well,” she said, “no”.

I found this unbelievable. But as I write about what our Christian faith offers us and the compromise most of us live as Christians, maybe we do not want to be well badly enough.

Peace

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One Response to “Baptism”

  1. Phyllis Terwilliger June 19, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    Thanks for your statement that we have nothing to fear. I need reminded of that every day. What a blessing to be a witness to the power of the Holy Spirit through the sacrament of Baptism.

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