This is the most important event of Christianity. Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God. If Jesus would have died on a Cross between two thieves, was buried in a new tomb and rotted there he would have been but one more tragic figure who ran afoul of the State and Religion and was executed. It is likely we would never have heard of him.
But wonder of wonders; Jesus not only died, and was buried, but was raised to Eternal Life by his heavenly Father, and it was the beginning of the sect of Judaism becoming a religion that has changed human history.
And so, we come to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Today we add another special event, the baptism of Peter Lahr, his beginning of eternal life. We hope that you will be able to stay after the worship when we have a reception in his honor.
Baptism is such an important event that begins the Christian life that will never end, let’s spend some time reflecting on some of its meaning.
First the very event is a mysterious event as the resurrection of Jesus. We cannot explain it, we can only celebrate it. When I poured water on Peter’s head and said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” we believe that Almighty God gave him the gift of an unending relationship with Him that we call eternal life. He is now a brother of Jesus and all Christians who have ever lived.
As I have gotten to know this congregation, I have discovered we all are from all over the United States. Some have come from High Point; some North Carolina; some from Ohio; New Jersey; Iowa; Minnesota; Wisconsin and the rest of the United States. But through the waters of baptism, we are brothers and sisters, siblings of Christ. And now Peter has become our brother in the family of Christianity.
For those of you new to the Lutheran Church let me explain why we baptize infants. We believe that baptism is a gift of God’s grace that we can never earn or choose for ourselves. God chooses to love us and declare we are his child. I love how Will Willimon, a Methodist Bishop who was once the chaplain at Duke explains it: “In baptism the recipient of baptism is just that, a recipient. You cannot do your own baptism. It’s done to you, and for you. It’s an adoption, not an interview.”
Each baptism recreates for the person a Good Friday, Easter event. When we are baptized, whether it be by total immersion or water being poured over our head we die in Christ and rise to eternal life with him forever.
I was baptized when I was baptized in the First Christian Church in Canfield, Ohio, I was 7 years old. I had no idea the significance of what was happening. I was dressed in a white robe, dunked under the water in a small swimming pool in the name of the triune God. I have been spending a lifetime learning to appreciate the awesome miracle God did that day by making me one of his children.
Especially since Peter is a child it will be important for his parents to help him what happened here, the 17th of April when he became an adopted child of God. That is why we gave them a baptismal candle to be lit every anniversary of his baptism. We as a congregation are responsible to help by offering Christian Education, Confirmation Classes, and giving him a readable Bible as tools to help him on his journey. As a young man he will unconsciously look to his parents and us to discover what it means in word and deed to be a child of God.
And so, this day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, Peter’s baptism, and our own as we remember that God through Easter promises and gives to all believers the gift of eternal life.
Thanks be to God. Amen