Romans 6:5 If we have been united with Christ like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.
I was once asked to perform a baptism by an elderly couple in a hospital room. Both of them were in their seventies and the husband couldn't remember if he had ever been baptized. He was dying of cancer and only had weeks to live. They were both anxious about this, so I did the baptism in the room within minutes of being asked.
It was a beautiful experience. I remember using a paper cup as a font and the patient’s bed tray as an altar. I had a pocket New Testament with me from which I read scripture pertaining to Christ’s baptism. I asked the elderly man if he believed in Jesus and if he wanted to be baptized. He simply said, “Yes, I do.” All three of us then joined hands and I said a prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to bless and sanctify the water, as well as each one of us. I poured a little of the water over the husband’s hair and thumbed a cross on his forehead. To this date, it was one of the most sacred sacraments that I have ever completed. Smiles and tears were shared like Communion bread and wine. We all embraced each other and our hugs became the passing of Christ’s Peace.
A couple of weeks later, we laid the old man to rest in his grave. His elderly wife was at peace throughout the ceremony. I like to think that she knew her husband’s soul was safe in the arms of Jesus. The baptism had united him to Christ’s death and resurrection.
Paul reminds us that our baptisms eternally connect us to Christ. We die to sin and live for Christ in baptism. We go from a mortal life to an eternal existence; we pass through the waters of woe to the River of Life. Our baptism is our crossing of the Jordan, from humanity to divinity, from a dusty planet to the Kingdom of God. It’s a beautiful blessing and one which everyone in the world should get to experience.
Questions for personal reflection
What does baptism mean to me? How has it shaped my life and faith?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the wonderful gift of baptism which not only brings us into the community of faith, but also unites us eternally with You. Remind us of this special blessing and help us to positively share it with other people, so that they may be drawn closer to You. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s image is John’s drawing of Christ’s baptism. If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7194/6924951609_4fc7a8a94e_b.jpg