Holy Baptism and the Easter Season
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Romans 6:3-5
One of my predecessors at my first congregation had graduated from the seminary in 1932. He was a man of few words and even less words of affirmation. One Sunday after a sermon I had preached he said “You boys talk a lot more about Baptism than we ever did in our preaching.” Whether he intended his words as a compliment was unclear, but that it how I took it.
The Easter season in the Church provides a great opportunity to put people in mind of the gifts given in baptism. During this season, I will share insights from a small little volume from Concordia Publishing House, Martin Luther on Holy Baptism. In 1534, Dr. Luther wrote, “For it is clearly not only proper and right but also of great necessity that this holy Sacrament [of Baptism] should be discussed in Christendom and that people should be well instructed so that they do not despise their Baptism, as, unfortunately, has been the case. Until recently, nothing was being preached or taught about it, with the result that people paid no attention to Baptism, but put it behind them and almost completely forgot about.” (p. 15)
One way that pastors have sometimes sought to teach Baptism and put the saints in mind of this precious gift is to speak the words of Absolution from the baptismal font. As this was the place where many saints first receive the forgiveness of sins, it becomes an opportunity to unpack how Christ’s death and resurrection has won for us the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation and then how Holy Baptism delivers those precious gifts. Absolution therefore is a continued delivering of what is first given in Baptism. In a world where people are unsure about so many things, the Easter season is a great time to remind God’s people of the certainty of Christ’s gifts given in the baptismal waters. May we heed Dr. Luther’s words and never let God’s people forget their baptism, but preach and teach Christ and His gifts given in Baptism. As the Paschal Candle is lit during the Easter season (as at baptisms and funerals), we can put people in mind of our baptism into Christ, His death and resurrection and, in time, our own death and resurrection.
Blessing – The almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given you the new birth of water and of the Spirit and has forgiven you all your sins, strengthen you with His grace to life + everlasting. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan