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“What Does Such Baptizing with Water Indicate?”
Romans 6:3-11


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Midweek Vespers—May 13, 2009

This evening we conclude our sermon series on the Sacrament of Holy Baptism as explained in the Small Catechism.

So far we have considered the first three topics, “What Is Baptism?”, “What Benefits Does Baptism Give?” and “How Can Water Do Such Great Things?” We conclude this evening with the fourth topic, “What Does Such Baptizing with Water
Indicate?”   The questions and answers are printed from the Small Catechism on page two of the bulletin.  Let’s now read it responsively as printed in the bulletin:

What does such baptizing with water indicate?

It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Where is this written?

St. Paul writes in Romans chapter six: “Therefore we have been buried with Him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too should walk in newness of life.”

“For the wages of sin is death.”  Because of your sins you should have died, and through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, that is exactly what happened.  For Christ suffered and died for you, and through Baptism the merits of his suffering and death are imparted to you.  As Paul says, "All of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death." 

Through Baptism you are connected to what transpired long ago and far away.  For, by means of your Baptism into Christ, the story of his life, suffering, death and resurrection is not just a lesson in ancient history.  Your Baptism is like a cord stretching across the centuries, back to Bethlehem, Nazareth, Galilee, Jerusalem, back to "a hill far away" and "an old, rugged cross" and an empty tomb.  

This connection we have through Baptism with Christ’s life, death, and resurrection is symbolized by the stained glass windows in our baptistery.  These eight windows depict the life of Christ, to symbolize that through Baptism we are united with him and receive the benefits of his life, death, and resurrection.  As Paul says, “All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death. . . If we have been united with him in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection." 

Just as Christ rose from the dead, everyone who has faith in Christ, who trusts in him for forgiveness, will also rise from the dead, to eternal life with him in heaven.  The end of earthly life is not the end.  It is a passage to a new life forever with the Lord. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Our new sanctuary contains many other symbols of Holy Baptism.  The traditional shape for a Christian sanctuary is cruciform, shaped like a cross.  However, that would not fit on our property, so our architect chose another shape from Christian symbolism.

If viewed from the air, the shape of our sanctuary is a baptismal shell, with the back doors as the top of the shell, and the rounded wall as the bottom of the shell.  Such shells are usually depicted with three drops of water beneath, to symbolize the three Persons of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in whose name we are baptized according to Christ’s command, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  In our sanctuary, the stained glass windows at the bottom of the shell will be like the three drops of water representing the three Persons of the Trinity.  So far we have installed the center window representing God the Son.  The large windows on either side will eventually depict God the Father and the Holy Spirit.

There are two other baptismal shells built into our new sanctuary.  The archway of the baptistery is like a vertical shell, and the ceiling of the baptistery is like a shell turned upside down.  Imagine it pouring out the waters of Baptism.

Another traditional symbol for Baptism is an octagon.  This is based on Baptism being a new birth and a new creation in Christ.  Because the first creation was in seven days, the eighth side of the octagon symbolizes new birth and new creation in Christ.  That is why the baptistery has an octagonal floor.  That is also why the entryway belltower is an octagon.  To symbolize that Baptism is the sacrament of initiation through which we enter into the Christian Church.  Just as we pass through that octagon to enter into this church building, we all passed through Baptism to enter into the Holy Christian Church.

Finally, as you leave the sanctuary there is another reminder of Baptism in the flowing waters of the fountain.  This is to remind us to take our Baptism with us every day into the world, as Paul says in Ephesians, “to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” as a born again child of God.  “All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death.  Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too should walk in newness of life.”

Let’s close by repeating again responsively the questions and answers from the Small Catechism printed in the bulletin:

What does such baptizing with water indicate?

It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Where is this written?

St. Paul writes in Romans chapter six: “Therefore we have been buried with Him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too should walk in newness of life.”

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