The Seal of Baptism – God’s Name
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14
One of my favorite “tools” to use is my embosser. It is a seal with which I can mark books as my own. Any time I get to use it means that I have added a new book to my library. We are good at marking our possessions. From the strip of masking tape on the bottom of a Tupperware container to the scribbled Sharpie on a ball glove, we have learned to mark things as our own. That is what God does in the waters of Holy Baptism. During the baptismal rite, the pastor traces the sign of the Holy Cross over the head and the heart of the child to “mark” the little one “as one redeemed by Christ the crucified.” (LSB, p. 268) Then attached to the splash of water is the powerful Word of God. By that same Word, all things were brought into being, the storms stilled, the sick made whole and the dead raised. As the child is baptized, God places His holy name upon the child as a sign of His possession.
To speak the words of the invocation and make the sign of the cross is to recall that we belong to God and that we are precious and valuable to Him. No matter what things we have done wrong, our Lord’s love for us was so great that not only would He send Christ to the cross on our behalf, but He would also place His name upon us. Dr. Luther writes, “Because God’s Word is in Baptism, we cannot attribute power to Baptism enough…It is not “Baptized in the name of Peter,” but “in the name of Christ or “in the name of God.” (Martin Luther on Holy Baptism, p. 75-76)
Dear friends in Christ, in a world where identity is such a confused and emotional issue, we have the opportunity to put people in mind of their baptism and the fact that God has placed His name upon each of them as a seal of the promised inheritance. As the late Norman Nagel wrote in the introduction to Lutheran Worship, “Saying back to Him what He has said to us, we repeat what is most true and sure. Most true and sure is His name, which He put upon us with the water of our Baptism. We are His. This we acknowledge at the beginning of the Divine Service . Where His name is, there is He.” Our identity is in Christ, His beloved children, purchased and won by His death and resurrection and marked with His name. So dear friends, you have been sealed with God’s name and you belong to Him!
All newborn soldiers of the Crucified
Bear on their brows the seal of Him who died!
(LSB 837, v. 3)
Prayer - O God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in whose name we have been baptized, grant that we may evermore appreciate that inestimable gift. You have called us by name; keep us always as Your own. You have delivered us from the power of the evil one; help us by Your spirit to renounce him day by day. O God, we thank You for our baptism; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan