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Thursday, March 20, 2014

03192014 Wednesday of Lent 2

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

The precious commodity here in Northwestern Kansas isn’t land, it isn’t wind, because we have lots to spare, but it is water.  When the settlers first came to the prairies the landscape was scattered with windmills, because the water was under the surface and needed to be pumped up for use to water the cattle and give the crops the needed moisture.  Today the Ogallala aquifer that we sit over top is drying up at an alarming rate.  But water is what drives the economy here in Northwestern Kansas and helps us to be one of the largest producers of corn and wheat in the country.  Yet, water not only is used for crops, we here in the church use water for Baptism.

In our series on Holy Baptism we have heard the connection of the Baptismal Rite and the story of the flood and how the story is our personal connection with Noah.  But the Water that flooded the earth, not only destroyed everything in its path, but clearly and unmistakably helps us understand a greater fact.  God warned the people about sinning and only after the world turned from God, did He unleash the Water of the flood.  In that moment God wiped away all the animals that breathed, mankind and sin in one felled swoop and we remember when we are baptized our sin being forever removed from us by Water intimately connected with Word. 

When God used the water to remove sinful mankind from the world, we to in our baptism have our sinful self-washed clean and made new.  We are forever changed by the Water and God’s Word and the truth of Water being connected with Word.  The Water and Word intimately connected has heavenly results offered to us.  And these results are our entrance into heaven.

Some might view that baptism is a ‘get out of hell’ free card.  But this is nothing further from the truth.  In the simple washing with Water and Word we are set free from the bonds of sin, death and the devil.  No longer are we bound by the sin that we were conceived in, but we have been set free to be the children of God.  How can Water do such great things?  The catechism is clear, “Because in Baptism water is used by a special command of God…[and] the promise of the Triune God is connected with the water…God imparts forgiveness of sins…delivers [us] from death and the devil…[and] gives eternal salvation…” [Q. 245, 253]  These are the gifts from God offered unto us and which we receive through Water and Word.  And the results are eternal life for us with God in His Kingdom.

God offers us this gift freely for all mankind.  But some still press the issue, what about those who have not been baptized, will they go to hell?  If one believes this, then God is nothing more than a monster and cannot be trusted.  However, the God Who baptized me through Martin Luther in his catechism explains, “it is not the lack of baptism which condemns, but the despising.”  In essence it is unbelief that condemns us.  So those who have not been baptized are not summarily condemned, but it is the clear and manifest despising of baptism that does condemn.  But God is clear, He freely offers baptism as a means of grace for us to enter into His kingdom and it is not for a ‘select few’, but for all of mankind.

This is a clear manifestation of the grace God offers us through His Son Jesus Christ.  For by Jesus enduring the shame, the beatings, hanging from the Cross and suffering and dying for all of mankind, His death was not for a few.  Jesus died for all of mankind and through our baptism into His life, death and resurrection we are offered eternal life.  This is God’s gift we receive through Water and Word that has eternal implications, our entrance into the Kingdom of God.  And this includes all of mankind, but especially all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this evening remembering our baptism by Water and Word and their heavenly results for each and every one of us.  AMEN.

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