If we had eyes to see what really happens in a baptism, we’d treat them as R-rated acts of violence. Not only is a person about to be killed. Not only are we about to witness a drowning. Horrific monsters writhe in the water. Dragons of the sea lurk therein. And a bloody battle, with crushed heads and butchered bodies is about to go down. To treat baptism as cute or sentimental or symbolic is a lie. Abandon all such foolish notions. Every baptism is war.
We talk about having personal things. We employ a personal trainer to help us shed pounds and get that coveted beachbody. We open a personal bank account to manage our finances. And, please, keep your hands off our personal property and your eyes out of our personal diary.
The worth of a congregation is determined by statistics. A church with 25 people in the pews is not as important to Christ’s kingdom as a church with 2500. It’s simple arithmetic, really. The more worshipers, the more worth. The larger the church, the larger accolades it deserves.
A number of years ago I compiled the following quotes from Scripture, the early church fathers, Luther, and others that address how various Old Testament narratives foreshadowed the gifts that our Father gives us in baptism. May they enrich your understanding, as they did mine, of how the Lord has always used water and his word to bless his people.
I can experience almost every aspect of church from the comfort of my own bed. I can prop up my pillow, open my laptop, and enter my very own cyber sanctuary. The music of beautiful hymns can reverberate through my computer. I can read the Bible myself or listen to an audio recording of a trained professional narrate the Scriptures for me. Preachers from across the spectrum of Christianity can squeeze their pulpits within my computer screen.
When we stand with Adam and Eve, east of Eden, looking back on the gardens we have destroyed because we couldn’t keep our hands off forbidden fruit; when we weep over lost loves, lost chances, lost lives; over and above all the sounds of shame and accusation and judgement ring these words, “With Christ I have been crucified.”