Term 4 is a season when a number of rites of passage occur for our students: final testing and exams; graduations; valedictories, end of year awards, formals, etc. I don’t know about you, but many of those rites of passage I experienced as a student are fading from my memory. While they were hugely important and exciting at the time, a lot of them have seemed to have lost their significance for me today.
There is one particular rite, however, which even though I don’t remember it happening to me, still has a profound impact on me every single day – my baptism. In that moment God made me his child, forgave my sins, and opened the doors of heaven for me. As his child he made a promise to keep on forgiving me and to also strengthen me to live as his child.
Some might say that baptism is a ‘done deal’, something which was done once some time ago but doesn’t really have any impact on me now. Whereas Martin Luther wrote about the importance of daily remembering our baptism:
baptizing with water means that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts; and that a new person daily come forth and arise, who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever. (Small Catechism, Baptism)
Luther wrote this based on many biblical texts, but in particular, Romans 6:4.
‘We are buried with Christ by baptism into death, that just as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.’
Lutheran spirituality doesn’t base itself in what we do for God (i.e. our church attendance, our devotions, our prayers, our serving of others, etc.), but the opposite – what God has done and continues to do for us. Therefore, when I struggle with moments of doubt, or I feel guilty for not studying his word or praying enough, I recall my baptism and the promise that God made to me in it. And it is in the promises that God made to me in my baptism that I take comfort, because that is something I can be confident of, as opposed to anything I could do.
So as you participate in the various rites of passage this term, let each one of them be a reminder of your rite of passage in baptism. In that, may you find comfort and encouragement that you are a dearly loved child of God who has committed himself to forgiving you and empowering you to live as his child – no strings attached.
Spiritual and Cultural Leader