Saturday, March 29, 2014

Infant Drowns in Flood, Given New Life

There has been a lot of talk this past week about Noah, the ark, and the flood. For the accurate, authentic, historical account, one simply needs to turn to Genesis.

This morning I got to witness something far more extraordinary than a couple hours of Hollywood fiction. I was privileged to administer the very flood to which the original one pointed: Holy Baptism. Holy Scripture teaches us that baptism is not just plain water, but it is the water included in God’s command and combined with God’s Word (cf. Matthew 28:19).

Two things happened before our very eyes this morning as we stood around the baptismal font. First, the flood of God’s wrath against sin came thundering down as the infant being baptized drowned and died. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:3). Then, the flood of God’s mercy in Christ came raining down as the infant being baptized emerged and arose to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. “We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

It’s no wonder Saint Peter, when speaking of the flood in Noah’s day, writes: “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you” (1 Peter 3:21). Jesus Himself adds: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16).

The baptismal rite we follow here at Divine Shepherd comes from Lutheran Service Book (LSB) and includes Martin Luther’s “flood prayer” below. Read and pray it yourself. It’s dripping wet with flood water and God’s mercy in Christ. What’s more, it reminds us that Holy Baptism places us in the holy Ark of the Christian Church, wherein we travel with our Lord Jesus across the tempestuous sea of this life to the very shoreline of His heavenly kingdom.

Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

Let us pray:

Almighty and eternal God,
     according to Your strict judgment You condemned the unbelieving world through the flood,
    yet according to Your great mercy You preserved believing Noah and his family, eight souls in all.
You drowned hard-hearted Pharaoh and all his host in the Red Sea,
     yet led Your people Israel through the water on dry ground,
     foreshadowing this washing of Your Holy Baptism.
Through the Baptism in the Jordan of Your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
     You sanctified and instituted all waters to be a blessed flood and a lavish washing away of sin.

We pray that You would behold _______ according to Your boundless mercy
     and bless him/her with true faith by the Holy Spirit,
     that through this saving flood all sin in him/her,
     which has been inherited from Adam and which he/she himself/herself has committed since,
     would be drowned and die.
Grant that he/she be kept safe and secure in the holy Ark of the Christian Church,
     being separated from the multitude of unbelievers and serving Your name at all times with a fervent spirit and a joyful hope,
     so that, with all believers in Your promise, he/she would be declared worthy of eternal life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.


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