Happy Easter… Life!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ;
It was recently my honor and my joy to preside at my first baptism at Faith. As I shared with that beautiful family on that blessed day, there is nothing more joy-filled for a pastor than a baptism!
When we gathered around the altar to witness the power of God’s Word at work in the “sacrament of the bath,” as Brother Luther called it, at that moment I thought that it would be appropriate that I share some of my thoughts with all of you. After all, if it were not for the COVID pandemic we would likely have all gathered during a Sunday worship service to share this life-giving event and you could not have stopped me from sharing what was going through my mind.
On that day, all around Faith’s altar, were the marks of Easter. The lilies were in place in front, and the frontispiece (the seasonal banner which hangs from the altar’s front edge) – emblazoned in the Easter colors of white and gold – declared its “Alleluia” for all the world to see. The “Christ Candle” also stood nearby. This candle is present at nearly all of our worship services and is truly a symbol of Easter … it proclaims Christ crucified and risen not just during the Easter season but whenever the faithful gather for worship.
And then there was the basin of water from which we baptize our newest brothers and sisters. Did you ever think of the baptismal basin or font as an Easter symbol? It is!
Jesus came to earth and lived among us for a time. Jesus first lived among the people of the earth. And then, as God had preordained, Christ gave up His life for us. He was buried under the earth. And then, on that first glorious Easter, He rose again from the grave. Upon rising, Jesus was still Jesus, but somehow changed. (His closest friends and disciples could not recognize Him, and He appeared and disappeared at will.) Once again, He ministered to others on earth, and then Christ rose to live forever at God’s right hand.
We know this story well. We all just celebrated this truth on April 4th this year. But did you ever realize that the story of your baptism, of every baptism, follows the same Easter path as that traveled by Jesus the Christ? It does!
Consider this. After birth, we live for a time (often a pretty short time) on earth, and then we come to the waters to be baptized. As we pass under the waters our sinful selves are put to death. Up from beneath the waters, by the power of God’s Holy Word, we rise up to a new existence. (We cannot pass through solidly locked doors as Jesus did, but we are indescribably changed! We are still the person we were before, but we have been changed as we rise up to a new life as God’s child. ) Then we minister to others for the remainder of our lives. Finally, we are taken up to a perfect, eternal existence singing and dancing around God’s throne.
The one difference between Jesus’ Easter story and our baptism is that He passes under and then above the ground while we pass under and then above the waters.
Our baptisms have put us on a path that Jesus blazed for us through that first Holy Week and Easter. How wonderful it is whenever we witness another disciple baptized among us! Another disciple has joined us along Jesus’ Easter path!
My last though this month is this: Jesus commanded many times, “follow me.” Did it ever occur to you that your whole life after baptism is one journey along an Easter path much like our Savior’s?
Have a Happy Easter Life,
Pr. Mark Behenna