Saturday, July 06, 2013
Fr. Wells' Bulletin Insert
This was specially written for the occasion of a Baptism in the Parish of St. Michael and All Angels, Fleming Island, Florida.
Had we had sought for a reading from the Epistles suitable for the joyous occasion of a Baptism, we could not have done better than the passage from Romans 6 which the Prayer Book provides as the Epistle for this Sixth Sunday after Trinity. The sacrament of Baptism is like a many-faceted jewel, with many aspects of meaning. The New Testament is emphatic that Baptism, whether to an adult believer or to a small infant, is the effective sign and seal of regeneration, God’s gift of New Birth. This New Birth (or Second Birth, or “birth from above”) ought not be any mysterious concept. It is simply an act of God which translates every Christian from the fallen predicament of Adam’s offspring to the redeemed status of the family of God.
Put simply, this is what Paul calls “newness of life.” Every baptized person enjoys a new status before God, a new condition of life, an utterly new existence in God’s universe All the baptized have been lifted out of the old creation into the new creation.
Every Baptism is another miracle made possible by the miracle that happened to Jesus on Good Friday and Easter morning. He died once for all, and was raised up into eternal glory. His resurrection was His newness of life. Our Baptism is our death unto sin, that is, our separation, once for all, from the sinfulness of ordinary living, and our initiation into the new life under God’s reign and within that kingdom. Our Baptism is simultaneously our death, our burial and our resurrection. This is why the majestic Easter candle should be prominently visible at every Baptism.
The newness of Life which Jesus received on the resurrection morning, He generously shares with us here and now. The life we enjoy now as the ”Christian Life,” is nothing less than His resurrection-life, a quality and condition of life, the “abundant life” which the non-Christian cannot know or possess.
The joy of a Baptism is our joy that yet another soul has been claimed for God’s kingdom, another person has been transferred from darkness into light, another human is no longer “in Adam” but is now “in Christ,” that another soul has been saved. The great events which took place in early April A. D. 30, were cataclysmic for the human race and for human history, splitting it into a Before and After, B. C. and A. D. Likewise our Baptism was our own Easter Event, the line of demarcation splitting our existence into a Before and After.
Note well how Paul speaks of being baptized into Jesus Christ. He thinks of Baptism not only as an immersion into water but as a submersion into the person of Christ, not only burial with Christ but as union with Christ. Baptism effectively signifies that Christ’s obedience is now our obedience, His good works are our good works, His death is our atonement, His resurrection is our Resurrection and the commencement of our newness of life. `LKW