Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Tale of Three Baptisms

My last three baptisms have been: 1) A man of 70 years of age, 2) a young man of 15 years, and 3) an infant girl of 7 days.

The first baptism took place in a private home with only five people present and very little by way of ceremony. The latter two took place in the Sunday public divine service of the church and happened providentially on the same day: the Feast of the Martyrdom of John the Baptist (which was also a poignant day for us as the fifth anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina). It was quite a day to reflect on the power of the Word to proclaim the kingdom (and to arouse the world's hatred), as well as the destructive power of water (power to destroy sin, the world, and the Old Adam).

Each of these baptisms were done according to the Pastoral Care Companion's version of Luther's 1526 rite - which includes an exorcism and an anointing with oil.

"What is Baptism? Baptism is not just plain water, but it is the water included in God's command and combined with God's Word." (Small Catechism, LSB 325)

The second birth by water and the Spirit comes to us in a variety of times, places, modes, and circumstances, with differing degrees of ceremony. In my own case, I was baptized at a Lutheran font at the age of 18. But whether baptism happens in a muddy river by immersion, in an ornate church font by pouring, or in a sterile ICU with an eye-dropper - each baptism is a miracle, a true new birth by the washing of regeneration according to the Word and promise of God.

Thanks be to our merciful Savior for the gift of Holy Baptism through which the Lord forgives, redeems, saves, and grants eternal life!

Stills of the August 29 baptisms and the reception can be found here.


Sue said...

Thanks for sharing. I can never see this enough - a new Christian, freshly born again into the faith. My older son was baptized in the grange hall in Tualatin, Oregon, where our mission congregation was meeting. The pastor invited all the children to join us at the font, which in this case was a special bowl sent by my brother from the seminary in St. Louis; the pastor also read a letter from my brother (and Zach's sponsor), about baptism and the symbolism of the bowl. Jacob, my younger son, was baptized in our church in Salem, Oregon. He screamed through the whole thing. The pastor took him in his arms for the prayer after, and Jacob screamed into the lapel mic. I'm now looking forward to a baptism in November, when I will have a newly born first grandchild (Zach's child), who will be baptized into the living faith.

X said...

Which part is the exorcism?