Cathy Soldner, whom many of you remember from her years at Prince of Peace, wrote a beautiful hymn that is often sung when we remember our baptisms called, “Baptized and Set Free.” In her hymn verse two says,
“We are fed and we’re nourished, filled and refreshed.
Then our hunger returns and again we are blessed.
For whatever the need, God is greater indeed:
endless ocean, always deeper than all of our need.”
As I think about the reading from Sunday of Jesus’ baptism, and reflect on our excellent adult forum on the history of baptism, I’m struck by the reminder that baptism is never an end, but is always a place of beginning. In the small catechism Luther speaks to the rhythm of endings and beginnings in the significance of baptism when he says, “…the old person in us with all sins and evil desires is to be drowned and die through daily sorrow for sin and through repentance, and on the other hand that daily a new person is to come forth and rise up to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”
Dying and rising, dying and rising. Fed and hungry, fed and hungry. Our life of faith is not a single act, but a continual cycle of death and life. Remembering our baptisms brings us back to this place of beginning again. As children of God we can greet each day both with the courage to repent and the courage to live as people who believe in the promise that God is still creating us new. We remember that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever, free to serve God and our neighbors with the gifts bestowed on us by the Holy Spirit. Our needs, our failures, our sins, none of these things can overshadow the grace and love of God, or as our hymn says, “for whatever the need, God is greater indeed.”
This week, may we keep our baptisms in mind as we rise and face each new day.
Let us pray:
Holy God, creator of light and giver of goodness, you anointed Jesus at his baptism with the Holy Spirit and revealed him as your beloved. Immerse us in your grace, and transform us by your Spirit, that we may follow after your Son and continually rejoice to be called children of God. Be with us this day as we seek to do your will, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Friend, Amen.