Higher Homilies: Baptismal Homicide

Rev. David Saar

Shhh! Don’t tell anyone! Nobody knows! They don’t realize. I’ve committed a crime and the cops are clueless. Please, please don’t turn me in. I mean, look at me; I wouldn’t survive a stint in jail. Ok, ok, here’s the thing. I’m just going to come out with it. I confess. I’ve got blood on my hands. I’m a serial killer. There. I’ve said it. Now you know. Over the past 20 years or so, I’ve been complicit in 62 homicides. I’m not clear on all the dates. I don’t remember. I’ve got it written down someplace. I’ve had hundreds of accomplices in these murders, but I’m not naming names. I’ve murdered everybody the same way. I’ve drowned them all. Someone else has held them down while I put their head under water until they’re dead. But three times I held them down while someone else did the drowning. Then after I killed them, I helped get rid of the body too, buried them all in the same grave. Nobody would realize where they’re buried. Forensics won’t be able to identify the bodies. The flesh is completely deteriorated. It can’t come back to me. They’re dead. I made sure by saying those killing words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” That’s right; I’m guilty of baptismal homicide. Some of the people I’ve helped to murder and bury are here today. “Or don’t you 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.”

By the time we get to the fourth section of Holy Baptism in the catechism, we think, “Finally! After all that word and water and faith stuff, we get to something practical, something we can do.” “What does such baptizing with water indicate? It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.” See? Baptism means that I should kill my Old Adam and let the new man come to life. What I need to do is to be super hard on myself, try harder, suffer, discipline myself, use all my will power and die to sin. Then, I’ll really be sanctified, God will be especially happy with me, and the new me, my better self, can peek out and be pure. But baptism isn’t a suicide of your old man. It’s a homicide. You’re not in control over your death. You’re not God. You don’t get to decide, “Ok, I’ll stop cussing now. I’ll stop lusting after I look this once more. I’ll start being nicer to my parents when I get home Friday.” Repent! Die! If you’re baptized, you’re dead. God has killed you. Stop trying to do it yourself! God crucifies you every day as you live as son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker. That’s God doing a daily Good Friday on you, doing contrition and repentance on you. Dead men don’t live and they don’t raise themselves. They’re dead. You’re dead. God is a homicidal baptismal killer.

And that’s a good thing for you, because dead men don’t sin. They’re free from sin. “Our old self was crucified with Christ in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.” Christ Jesus the Lamb of God took on your sin in his body. He suffered for it, was crucified, died, and was buried for it. He died to sin once and for all. You don’t do it yourself. Christ has done it for you. But it gets even better because on Easter Sunday Christ is raised from the dead. He will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. If death and sin don’t enslave and kill Christ, they don’t and can’t do it to you either. Why? Because you’re baptized into Christ, that’s why. God gives you his word and promise on it. He says, “I drown you in Christ’s bloody death. I crucify you with Christ. I bury you in this watery grave. You’re done for. And then I raise you up to life again. You’re free from sin. You don’t live in it. I forgive you all your sins.” If God is a homicidal serial killer, he’s also a serial resurrecter. He raises you to the newness of life, with his word. And this wet word I declare to you all today. “You’re alive in Christ. You’re free from sin. Go in peace.”

This sermon was preached at From Above - Purdue. Pr. Saar is St. John's Lutheran Church in Mount Forest, ON.

Created: September 18th, 2013