Reflections: Wednesday of the 16th Week after Trinity

Today’s Reading: Small Catechism: Baptism, part 4

Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 5:1-21; Matthew 8:18-34

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. (Small Catechism: Baptism)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Church has a long history of immersing people in water when baptizing them. Only recently have we preferred sprinkling and pouring, and only to defend our Christian freedom from the legalists who require immersion.

The practice of immersion is reflected in Luther’s answer. The Old Adam should “be drowned,” and then a new man should “emerge.” Then, Luther connects this practice to Romans 6. The baptized is plunged beneath the water to indicate that he is being buried with Christ. He is brought out of the water to indicate that he will live a new life, just as Christ was raised from the dead.

Another practice of the Church has been lost. Once you were baptized naked. Before you could enter the water, you had to take off your clothes. When you stepped out of the pool, you were wrapped in a white robe. This practice was based on Galatians 3:27, Ephesians 4:20-24, and Colossians 3:9-10. Through Baptism, the old is stripped away and Christ is put on.

The traditions are not as important as the message they convey. When you come to the font, you come as a child of Adam. You leave the font a child of God. You were covered in sins, but these were washed away in the water and nailed to the Cross. Now, you are dressed in Christ. He is your righteousness. As a sinner, you should inherit death. At the font, you get death out of the way, and then you emerge, signifying that you are joined to the risen Christ and will live forever.

Here’s the point: Baptism is a new beginning. It isn’t an event in the past to be forgotten, but it creates a new reality in which you live. You live in your Baptism. The pattern of dying and rising, or taking off and putting on, continues every day by the grace of God. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Merciful Father, through Holy Baptism You called us to be Your own possession. Grant that our lives may evidence the working of Your Holy Spirit in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, according to the image of Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen. (Prayer for Life as a Baptized Child of God, LSB p.310)

-Pastor Alexander Lange is pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Albany, Oregon.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch

Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.