by Jon Kohlmeier
This past weekend I attended the Higher Things Retreat, “Watermarked” hosted by Trinity Lutheran Church in Sheboygan, WI. It was as great as everything else that Higher Things has to offer.
We worshiped! We got to pray such offices at Matins, Vespers, Evening Prayer and Compline. Another great gift that those in attendance received was the opportunity for both Private Confession and Absolution and also a service of Corporate Confession and Absolution. Many who were at “Watermarked” had never gotten to experience this. The Pastors laid their hands on our foreheads and said, “In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”
Wow! Thats AWESOME! Hands-on Absolution!
So what does my title “All Means All” have to do with this? One of the most memorable quotes from Pr. Borghardt was this: “Lutheranism is simple; all means All, is means IS, and I forgive you means I forgive you!” It’s true! Christ tells His apostles in the last verses of Matthew: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” All means all! All nations means all nations. From a small infant to a tall adult and everywhere in between. All means All! When we each received individual Absolution the pastor forgave all of our sins. All of them! The ones we committed when we were very young to ones we committed just minutes ago to ones we will commit on our death beds. All of them! Christ died for ALL of them before we were born. ALL means ALL.
The next part of the quote, “Is means IS,” talks about Communion. When Christ instituted Holy Communion He said, “This IS My Body,” and “This IS My Blood.” IS means IS! When we receive the Lords supper we receive His Body and Blood for the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. And, best of all, “I forgive you” means just that! I forgive you!
Baptism is a very important thing. In Mark 16, Christ says, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Christ commands that “all nations” are to be baptized. Christ died for the sins of the world. Here he says whoever believes AND is baptized will be saved. In his Small Catechism, Luther suggests that the first thing we do when we wake up is make the sign of the cross in remembrance of our baptism. He also suggests that the last thing we do before we go to sleep is make the sign of the cross in remembrance of our baptism.
So we worshiped, we worked, but what about play? Didn’t we have any fun the whole weekend?! This was a youth retreat after all. If you asked the youth who attended Watermarked, most of them would probably say that they enjoyed the worship and Bible study as much, if not more, than the fun that we did have. On Friday, we had a “Meet and Greet” activity. Each of us had a name put on our back and we had to go around asking yes or no questions to figure out who we were. There were people from theology (I was Martin Luther), pop culture, even animated commercial characters like Pr. Borghardt who was the Geico Gecko.
On Saturday, we all got to experience a Sheboygan Brat Fry. Then, of course what better thing to do at a retreat called “Watermarked,” than play in water! Saturday afternoon was spent at the Blue Harbor Indoor Water Park. Of course there was a certain Texan playing in a more frozen form of H2O every time he walked outside. Pr. Borghardt just seemed to find the snow amazing.
“Watermarked” was a great experience for all who attended. We made new friends and met up with old ones. We learned some great things about what God has done for us. We rejoiced in our Baptism and all the gifts that Christ freely gives!
God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It – LSB 594
4. Death, you cannot end my gladness: I am baptized into Christ!
When I die, I leave I leave all sadness To inherit paradise!
Though I lie in dust and ashes Faith’s assurance brightly flashes;
Baptism has the strength divine To make life immortal mine.
5. There is nothing worth comparing To this lifelong comfort sure!
Open-eyed my grave is staring: Even there I’ll sleep secure.
Though my flesh awaits its raising, Still my soul continues praising:
I am baptized into Christ; I’m a child of paradise!
Jonathan Kohlmeier is a Freshman at Concordia University – Wisconsin. He volunteers with Higher Things Internet Services, serving as myHT content manager. Jon has also written O Love, How Deep.