Not like a flu shot
I got my flu shot today, and I sure hope it works, because I hate being sick (I’m sure you do, too). Just in case the shot doesn’t work, I’ll take a multivitamin every day and remember to wash my hands after I’ve been in public. If I notice other people around me getting sick, I’ll take things up a notch by making sure I’m getting plenty or rest and drinking lots of water. I might even keep a can of Lysol handy if my corner of the world seems particularly infected. Being sick is no fun at all, so I really hope that shot keeps me safe this winter. But I know there’s a chance it won’t. I might catch something that’s not the flu, or, I might just get the flu anyway.
There will be six baptisms at St. Paul this weekend. We’re really fortunate that we get to celebrate the gift of God’s grace being poured into, over, and through the lives of this many people all in one weekend and all in one place. Baptism is a wonderful new beginning for each of us – whether it happens at age 6 days, 16 years, or 60 years. Baptism is not…like a flu shot.
Baptism is not an inoculation. At every baptism here, the pastor reminds us, “By water and the Word, God delivers us from the power of sin and death and offers us new life in Jesus Christ.” But being delivered from the power of sin and death doesn’t mean we’ll never get sin-sick in this life. It doesn’t mean we’ll never know heartache, anxiety, or pain – to name just a few symptoms. Baptism doesn’t keep sin from happening. It does mean that sin and all the suffering that comes with it will not have the final say in our lives. Through water and the word we get new life.
Martin Luther said, “there is on earth no comfort greater than baptism.” Often in times of acute anxiety and distress, he would repeat to himself, “I am baptized! I am baptized!” It’s not a bad prescription for any of us who find ourselves “under the weather” in a sin-sick world. Maybe the promise of baptism can be for us like a cozy blanket, a nice cup of tea, or a hot shower when we’re sick – a source of comfort reminding us that we will get better and the world will get better, because God has given us new life. Nobody likes to be sick, but, if and when we do, God promises we’ll get better.
–Ryan Bailey, director of faith formation