For as many of you as were baptized into Christ
have put on Christ.
I Am Baptized!
The Ongoing Significance of the Sacrament
A company in town recently had a "grand opening," complete with ribbon cutting ceremony with all the big wigs in town present: the mayor, city counsel members, chamber of commerce heads, etc. Speeches were given, sales were had, smiles were flashed, and hope for a wonderful addition to the community was created.
Another company has prospects for opening. The big wigs were all present again for the ceremonial first shovel of dirt as they broke ground for their new building project. Speeches were made, smiles were given, and anticipation for the completed building (and its ongoing merchandising) was created.
Imagine if everything stopped there. Imagine if after the ribbon cutting, everyone went immediately home and the store closed its doors.
That would be a real bust.
Yet this is how our baptisms are often regarded. They are usually seen as a "one and out" type ritual. Now it is something long ago and far away.
Though our baptisms may only happen once in our lives, this blessed ritual is to continue to have significance for us all through our lives.
Theologians call baptism an "initiatory rite." It's God's ribbon cutting that portrays the fact that we've just entered the kingdom of God through our union with Christ and His pardon of sin.
But we can also think of baptism as an "anticipatory rite." It anticipates a long walk with Christ, growth in faith, and a full salvation that is yet to come.
That's why we are to always remember our baptism, reflect upon it, and be challenged by it. Whether we remember the actual day of our baptism or how wet we got does not matter. What matters is that it happened. And we must bring that reality to bear on our lives.
We need to understand its reality and apply its significance regularly for our ongoing life. From time to time it is even good to say to yourself, "I've been baptized! I've been marked out as belonging to God. He's branded me as His own and washed me of my sin."
You wear your wedding ring each day, just like you "wear" your baptism. The water may have long dried up, but you've still been marked by the rite. And like the wedding ring, your baptism is to preach to you on a daily basis.
Your wedding ring reminds you of important truths: I'm loved; I'm united to my spouse; I have vows to keep.
Similarly, your baptism is to be a constant reminder of how you are loved by God, set apart to him, and have vows to keep towards him.
Paul wrote to the Galatians about baptism. These were not new converts getting ready to be baptized. They were already baptized members of the church. But he set their baptism before them and reminded them of its significance for their present lives:
"All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."
Paul was telling the Galatians: You've been baptized! You need to remember that. You need to remember that you have a new identity. You have new opinions, new desires, and should be demonstrating new actions keeping with that identity!
Though the water may have dampened your clothes long ago, it should not ever evaporate, spiritually speaking. You need to continue to work out the implications of your baptism and draw strength from the realities which it signifies.
The leadership will be conducting interviews for membership, professions of faith, and baptism after morning services on December 8th. Anyone who would like to meet with the leadership is invited to contact us to schedule an interview.
LEARN MORE: Membership at Hopewell | Is your child ready to profess faith?