MARKS US AS HIS OWN  

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On January 11, 2015 we celebrate the baptism of our Lord Jesus. What better time to share with you this article written by Southern District President, Reverend Kurtis D. Schultz on our own personal baptisms. Enjoy and God’s peace to you all.

                                                                                                            - Pastor Tom  

We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 

(Rom 6:4 NIV)

Baptism is more than an initiation rite. It is virtually synonymous with the entire Christian life. Being a Christian and being baptized is the same thing. Confirmation is the affirmation of Baptism and Confession and Absolution is the practice of Baptism. In Baptism we become part of Christ; a union continued in Holy Communion as He becomes part of us. By Baptism we received the name of God.  Baptism includes us in Christ's death and resurrection; and, so are made members of His own Body, the Church.

This is why the Baptismal font in many of our churches sits in the middle of the aisle. Here, the font serves as the focus of who and whom we are. Placed squarely between the pews and the altar it blocks the central aisle. Each person approaching the altar has to decide on which side of the font to walk. When leaving the altar he/she has to make that decision again. It is impossible to walk straight to the altar. Even the opening procession of worship is interrupted by the placement of the Baptismal font. The Baptismal font is an impediment to orderly traffic and forces all those who pass it to ask why an obstacle was placed right in the middle of the aisle. It is as if John the Baptist were standing at the church doors telling us to repent of our sins. He points us to the baptismal font where we can find Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Every font is a reminder to every Christian that he or she was once baptized into Christ and that the Holy Trinity came to live in him or her. That font blocks our path so that we by faith see the Holy Trinity in the water who joined Himself to us in Baptism. The font is not a meaningless portable, non-pretentious, largely to be ignored (except for times when children and adults are baptized), piece of furniture that is a nuisance when it has to be moved. 

God finds His home in the water of Baptism and on that account it can do such great things as forgive sins, grant life and salvation, and actually confer the power of Christ's resurrection. God's presence in Baptism is more than His working in every place in the universe; in Baptism He takes us and our children to Himself.  He comes to live within us. Through Jesus we share in the divine nature. We become the temple of God and the Holy Spirit dwells within us. In the Old Testament the presence of God was dreadful. Israel stayed far from Sinai because God was on that mountain. Isaiah saw God in the temple and trembled. Can a man or woman see God and live? And the answer is "no." But in Baptism we come face-to-face with God. Instead of wrath and death, we are given the life of God Himself and our sins become permanently past tense. The unapproachable God approaches us in water.

Luther says from the Baptismal font the voice of the Holy Trinity sounds. Some make the sign of the cross at the Baptismal font as a confession that the God who spoke to Moses from the burning bush speaks to all Christians through His Son in Baptism to give us His Spirit.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 

Prayer: Almighty and most merciful God and Father, we thank and praise you that you graciously preserved and enlarged your family and have granted to us the new birth in Holy Baptism and made us members of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, as heirs of your heavenly kingdom. We humbly beseech you that, as we have now become your children, you would keep us in our Baptismal grace that according to all your good pleasures we may faithfully grow to lead a godly life to the praise and honor of your holy name and finally with all your saints obtain the promised inheritance in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen 

Pastor Kurtis Schultz

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