Lenten Midweek Series
A Six Week Meditation on the Sacrament of Holy Baptism
Thought for the Day from Bulletin Cover:
In Baptism we now put on Christ—Our shame is fully covered with all that He once sacrificed and freely for us suffered. For here the flood of His own blood now makes us holy, right, and good before our heav’nly Father. O Christian, firmly hold this gift and give God thanks forever! It gives the power to uplift in all that you endeavor. When nothing else revives your soul, your Baptism stands and make you whole and then death completes you.
All Christians Who Have Been Baptized, LSB 596
[I am indebted to The Rev. Dr. Leopoldo Sanchez for some portions of this sermon. Dr. Sanchez asked, “Who are you wearing?” to the delegates of the 65th Regular Convention of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.]
The recent Oscar’s were much the same as the years before. There is a liturgy to the Oscar’s and it begins on the red carpet where the rich and famous are asked, “Who are you wearing?” It’s fashion-speak for which designer made the clothing. “Laurent!” one will say. “Prada!” another will say. Most of us wouldn’t have an answer or if we did it would be something like “Kohl’s!” “Dillard’s!” or “Walmart!”.
Who you wear describes something about who you are. Knowing your designers name because you actually have met them, and may be on a first name basis with them, reveals something about the circles you keep and sphere of influence you possess. If I had a red carpet moment the interviewer would be unimpressed. My lack of fashionable tags would reveal my humble state.
Yet, dear Christian friends, before we look past Hollywood’s question let’s consider the importance of their question. For in a way they’re correct in wanting to know who you are wearing. For who you wear says something about who you are. So, who are you wearing today?
“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Who are you wearing? “Christ!” says St. Paul. This too reveals something about the circles you keep. Baptized into Christ the Holy Spirit has made you a part of God’s family circle. You are sons and daughters of God. You are heirs to promises of God made long ago to Abraham. Your ‘entourage’ transcends generations and centuries. In Baptism you are made a child of God, Christ is your brother and all the saints behind and ahead of you are your siblings.
Your baptism also says something about the sphere of influence you possess. When you pray your prayers are always answered. You’re on a first name basis with God. For the Father has revealed those who are in his Son will be heard. Even when we don’t know what to pray the Holy Spirit is interceding for the God’s children on earth. Even when you don’t get the answer you’re looking for, God has answered and answered well.
If you’re an heir to the promises of God, then that must mean there’s an inheritance. You are promised the riches of God where moth and rust cannot destroy. As Christ lives in the eternal blessedness and righteousness of God his Father, so also we will join Him and as adopted sons. What the Son of God has is yours too. As St. Paul said, “The sufferings of the present age are not worth comparing to the glory to be revealed.” We have a beautiful inheritance given to us. Want a glimpse? Read the Scriptures of the glory of the risen Christ who is exalted into heaven. Read the promises of Revelation 21-22 that speak of the glories of the new heavens and new earth that you will inherit.
You inherit all this and what did you do to get it? Nothing! You were baptized into Christ and so you have put on Christ. This was not your doing. This was God’s. Don’t miss the passive voice that Paul uses when he talks about Baptism. When you are baptized God is the giver and you are the recipient. He richly poured out the forgiveness Christ won for you on the cross and he gives you the Holy Spirit that you may be strengthened and comforted daily in the one true faith. On the cross Christ got your sin! At baptism you received Christ’s death for sin! On the cross Christ gave you his forgiveness! At baptism you received Christ’s righteousness! That’s what it means to put on Christ. To trust that through baptism you’ve won all the benefits of Christ’s cross.
Now we see that if we’re ever asked who we’re wearing we have a magnificent and miraculous answer. I wear Christ. You wear Christ. We wear Christ.
St. Paul was getting at an important point in the letter to the Galatians. Since we all have been baptized into Christ regardless of our parentage, class, race, or sex, we are to look at one another differently too. When we look at one another we should first see the other’s baptism into Christ. Before making a single judgment about the other person’s character or status if they are Baptized then first we assume they are Christ’s. If they are Christ’s then they are our sibling.
The waters of Baptism call us to look at one another with different eyes—the eyes of the Holy Spirit—even when we don’t understand one another, even when we don’t get along or disagree, our baptism calls us to see the Christ our brethren has received and put on. It is through Baptism that we truly learn who we are before God and before one another. At the foot of the cross and at the waters of baptism there is only level ground. Not one of us stands higher then another. Not one of us is more saved or received more grace than another. Not one of us is more a sinner or less a sinner. Not one of us is more a saint or less a saint. We have all been clothed in Christ and his righteousness.
Our baptism is our first and highest calling. We know that by baptism the old sinful Adam is gone and the new creature has arisen. So in baptism we are called to treat one another accordingly; with love and forgiveness. We are charged to encourage one another to do good for one another and our neighbor. We are called to correct and call back the erring with patience and the tenderness of Christ.
Likewise there is one more implication to God’s Word for us today. If baptism is for Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female, then that means baptism is for everyone. It’s not just for those sitting in the pews with you today. It’s for the gas station attendant down the road and the immigrant neighbor up the street. “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” God said to Abraham. “So shall your offspring be.” So shall your siblings be brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Baptized into Christ we are called not to forget the promise and to share the promise that more and more people will put on Christ! In Jesus’ name, amen.
SDG – Rev. Eric M. Estes