There is a restaurant in the City where I currently live that I really like. I enjoy the friendly people, the food, and I especially like their North Carolina Sweet Tea. I was getting ready to enjoy a tall glass of the Tea recently when I was in such a hurry I spilled the whole big glass onto my lap. It was a refreshing experience to the say the least. It seemed all eyes were watching as I tried to clean up the ocean of tea with my single napkin. I apologized over and over again to the waiters who cleaned it up. There were several other people at the table who made some comments as they watched my antics:
· “What’s your next trick?”
· “I was thinking about getting my child baptized soon—how is your aim?”
· “You have wet pants Rev. perhaps you should go into the rest-room there is a diaper changing table there.”
· “Are you remembering your Baptism Ted?”
· “We can’t take you anywhere!”
· “Ted – they have high chairs here. You might want to try one.
After lunch I went home and put on some dry clothes. Those dry clothes felt so good. I felt like a new person walking in the “newness of life.” The rest of the day went much better, but the next time I go to that same restaurant I may wear a disguise.
Paul says this in Romans 6:3-5: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Christ in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
In the church of Paul’s day immersion was the usual form of baptism. New Christian disciples were completely “buried” in water. They understood Holy Baptism to symbolize the death and burial of the old way of life. The newly baptized person would come up and out of the water and this symbolized resurrection to new life with Christ.
Those of us who are Christian are baptized into the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a very positive, hopeful, and life-transforming truth to believe. Each new day is a new opportunity to live out your baptism by having faith in God and love for your neighbor.
We find ourselves living in the midst of difficult and fear-filled times. Many people I visit with tell me they are worried and concerned. The Covid-19 virus is now affecting people in nearly every country in the world and in every State in America. We must not panic. We are called to use the faith we have and trust in God’s goodness and mercy. We are not the first human beings to live in challenging times. Please remember your Baptism and how much God loves you. Remember that God is always our refuge and strength. Your fear should not be more powerful than your faith right now. Remember the words of Psalm 46:1-2, and
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change…..The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
I will be praying for all of you in sickness and in health. Remember that the God who loves you is always ready and willing to help, providing refuge, security, and peace. Psalm 46 says that God’s power is complete and his ultimate victory is certain. God loves you and will hear and respond to your prayers. If there is any way I can help you as your Pastor and friend please let me know. The Lutheran Church is ready and willing to help during these strange times.
I have one more thing to say. If you ever go out to eat lunch with me you might want to not sit right beside me. Thanks to Christ I am a new creation walking in the “newness of life,” ……but I still tend to spill things. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Theodore Harold Rust