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Wading deeper into baptismal waters

What role does your Baptism have in your day-to-day life? In the Large Catechism Martin Luther has this to say about Holy Baptism:

Every Christian has enough in Baptism to learn and to do all his life. For he has always enough to do by believing firmly what Baptism promises and brings: victory over death and the devil, forgiveness of sin, God's grace, the entire Christ, and the Holy Spirit with His gifts. In short, Baptism is so far beyond us that if timid nature could realize this, it might well doubt whether it could be true.

For too many Christians, their Baptism is like a diploma: a nice thing to have, glad that you got it, but mostly forgotten and certainly not impacting your day-to-day life. 

According to Luther, though, Baptism is more like a never-ending power supply, or like a rich and constantly-replenished treasure, which provides ample resources for day-to-day living by faith. 

For too many Christians, their Baptism is like a diploma: a nice thing to have, glad that you got it, but mostly forgotten and certainly not impacting your day-to-day life. 

In that spirit, and building off of what I wrote in the Inklings for the week following Jesus' baptism last year, I submit to you a few more practical suggestions for how to live more fully into your baptismal identity—how to wade more deeply into the waters of Baptism, so to speak:

1. Read (or re-read) the section on Baptism in the Small Catechism

It will take you five minutes. The fourth question, in particular, speaks to the ongoing relevance of Baptism for Christian living: “What does such baptizing with water signify?—Answer. It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”

2. Memorize a Scripture verse related to baptismal living. 

The most relevant is Romans 6.4: “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.” Other possibilities include 2 Corinthians 5.17, Ephesians 2.10, Colossians 3.9-10, etc.

3. Recite that baptismal verse in the shower. 

You could even use dry-erase markers and scrawl it on the tile, or (for those who are especially crafty) print it up and have it laminated, then affix it to the wall. Note, however, that this may have the added affect of sparing—er, depriving—everyone else in the household of your beautiful singing voice (but see next).

4. Learn a baptismal hymn to sing with the kids (or yourself!) at bath time. 

Bath time is a natural time to talk about the significance of the little ones’ “washing of water and the Word,” and a great way to do that is through song. An easy one is #605 in the Lutheran Service Book, which we sang on Sunday, “Father Welcomes.” Another that we sang is “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It” (LSB 594). The LSB has several other good choices, or you can use another that your personal devotion suggests.

5. Put a water-dipper beside the front door. 

I’m sure there is a technical name for this, and if anyone knows it please share—because I don’t! A member of my last parish gave us one such thingamabob a couple years back: a beautiful ceramic piece, painted with a dove, and with a small, finger-sized well that you can fill with water and subsequently use to splash yourself a bit on the way out the door—remembering who (and Whose) you are as you trek out into the world.

6. Use your baptismal candle. 

When individuals are baptized in our church, as in many churches, they receive a baptismal candle. For most this probably goes right up to the attic with other trinkets from your childhood. Instead, keep it handy, and bring it out each year on your "baptismal birthday." This is the day when God made you His child—it's worth celebrating! So why not have a cake to go with that candle? 

These are just some ideas that have been adopted in the Tinetti home;  I encourage you to add to the list. The goal is to live ever more into the identity that the triune God has conferred upon you as His own dear child, rather than the countless sham identities the world would saddle you with. You have the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit upon you; that’s powerful, and awesome. You've got enough "to learn and to do" your whole life!

Sunday's sermon

Jesus hadn't done much of public consequence when He was baptized and received the announcement from the Father, "This is my beloved Son!" What is the significance of this for Jesus—and for us?

Listen to Sunday's sermon

News & Notes

  • Speaking of remembering your baptism, the Elders and I this week discussed relocating the baptismal font to the rear of the sanctuary, near the entrance. This would serve the practical purpose of clearing more room for the kids during the children's message, but also convey the theological teaching that Holy Baptism is our entrance into the family of God—that we are "beloved before," as I said in Sunday's sermon. We are going to try this move on a trial basis and welcome your feedback.
  • If you haven't been able to make it to our new Sunday Bible study on the book of Acts, "World Upside Down," I have good news for you. The audio is posted and available for you to listen to. Click here. We're still just in chapter 1, so I encourage you to come out and join us this Sunday.
  • Native Arcadian and longtime member of Trinity Lutheran, Doris Bell, has died. She would have turned 100 this year. Our condolences and prayers go out to her daughter, Sue Peterson, and sons, Larry Joe and Rod. Read her obituary here

From the Church Year

This Saturday, January 18th, the Church Year commemorates the Confession of St. Peter. From the Treasury of Daily Prayer:

"The confession of St. Peter did not arise in the imagination of Peter’s heart but was revealed to him by the Father. The reason this confession is important is seen in Jesus’ response: “You are Peter [Greek Petros], and on this rock [Greek petra] I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18). As the people of God in the Old Testament began with the person of Abraham, the rock from which God’s people were hewn (Isaiah 51:1-2), so the people of God in the New Testament would begin with the person of Peter, whose confession is the rock on which Christ would build His Church. But Peter was not alone (the “keys” given to him in Matthew 16:19 were given to all the disciples in Matthew 18:18 and John 20:21-23). As St. Paul tells us, Peter and the other apostles take their place with the prophets as the foundation of the Church, with Christ Himself as the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). The confession of Peter, therefore, is the witness of the entire apostolic band and is foundational in the building of Christ’s Church. Thus the Church gives thanks to God for St. Peter and the other apostles who have instructed Christ’s Holy Church in His divine and saving truth."

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

- Matthew 16.15-17

Looking ahead to Sunday

The Second Sunday after Epiphany
  • Readings
    • Old Testament lesson—Isaiah 49.1-7
    • Epistle lesson—1 Corinthians 1.1-9
    • Gospel—John 1.29-42
  • Hymn of the Day—"Christ, the Word of God Incarnate" (LSB 540)

+ Grace & Peace +

Pastor Tinetti

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