Friday of the Week of Lent III
Today’s readings: Jeremiah 11:1-8, 14-17; Romans 6:1-11; John 8:33-47
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:3-4)
There has certainly been enough disagreement within Christianity about Holy Baptism to cause confusion and consternation! Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Anglicans and some others baptize infants and young children, while Baptists and some others baptize only “believers”—those who can “make a decision for Jesus” prior to being baptized.
I’ve been fortunate to have close relationships with a number of Baptist preachers, the first having been Brother Frank Wells in Hobbs, NM. Rev. Wells started preaching when he was 12, was ordained at 14 and I knew him when he had been pastoring for 60 years or so. He preached in our congregation and I was blessed to preach in his. He was the oldest pastor in Hobbs; I was the youngest! We never argued about baptism, although we discussed it quite often. We agreed that the disagreement often came about because of emphasis. Lutherans affirm that baptism is God’s work, while Baptists have seen baptism as the result of human action.
The more Lutherans and Baptists have talked with one another, the more many have come to realize that, while the emphasis may be different, baptism is something God does. Even though a young person or adult may “decide” to be baptized, the decision is the work of the Word and Holy Spirit, working in the new believer. When a baby is baptized, the parents decide to bring the baby to church, promise to raise the child in a godly household, make a commitment. Either way, the death and resurrection that happens in baptism is God’s work, not ours! God alone gives newness of life!
Prayer: Lord God, help us keep the focus always on you—your love, your grace, your Word, your Son, your Holy Spirit. Amen.
Lenten Response: Dip your finger in water and trace a small cross on your forehead, in remembrance of your baptism!
Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David M. Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.
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