Baptism of the Lord – January 7, 2018

Texts for the Day

Baptism

This week we will focus on baptism. Read the section on Baptism in the Small Catechism.  Here is a short quote to give you the idea.

[Baptism] works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.

The New Testament refers repeatedly to the practice of baptism, which has been a part of the church’s practice from the very beginning. See, for instance, the reading this week in Acts. There are two primary symbol sets that are used to describe what happens when we are baptized.

Washing away of sins – One way of viewing baptism is the washing away of our sins. Read Titus 3:1-8. The word translated “water” in the NRSV is literally “washing.”  It is not the water itself that washes away our sins. It is God’s action. Notice how all three persons of the Trinity are depicted as active in the work of salvation.

Death and rebirth – The other primary way the New Testament sees baptism is as a death to sin and a rebirth into Christ. Read Romans 6:1-4. Here, amid his densely packed theology on justification by faith, Paul makes room for a mention of baptism. Through baptism we share in the resurrection by dying and rising to new life.

Which of these explanations speaks to you?  Do you see baptism as a metaphorical washing or as a metaphorical drowning?  Which other symbols or metaphors have you heard or can come up with would you like to add?

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