12 November 2014

Today's Chapel Homily

On Colossians 2:11ff. and Augsburg Confession, Article IX.

It was surely one of the shockers of the Reformation when Lutherans found fellow Christians ready to dump the Baptism of infants and doing so because they decided that Baptism was, after all, something we do and it can only have value and worth if we do it with our noggins fully engaged. Once again, grownups getting in the way, blocking the little ones from coming to Jesus to receive His blessing. Telling them: Not yet. You can’t appreciate His embrace until you can think it through for yourself.

Paul in todays’ reading significantly likens Baptism in the New Covenant to circumcision in the Old. But as always the Old was piecemeal and the new is whole hog. So in circumicion a bit of your flesh was slice off and tossed away, but in Baptism, the whole body of flesh is done to death with Jesus and then raised with Him through faith. And this is the key phrase: “through the powerful working of God.”

Baptism isn’t your doing. Get your hands off the verbs! Baptism is where God does the powerful work. He takes those who are dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of their flesh and He buries them with Jesus and then proceeds to make them alive together with Christ. And He does this by way of forgiveness: “having forgiven us ALL our trespasses, cancelling the record of debt that stood against us.”

Little ones need it. Big ones need it. Age is irrelevant. Take the little ones and ask yourself: Did you ever have to teach them to be selfish? To say: “Mine!” It’s almost the first word they learn after mama and papa and NO. Thrwart their little plans and watch and see. Does the tiny baby in the cradle ever not scream bloody murder when it doesn’t get what it wants? See the shaking and the anger and the turning red in the face.

Which is just to note that the little ones need what Baptism gives. They need forgiveness. They need to be joined to Jesus in his death, burying that sinful impulse that animates us, and rising with Him to a new life.

But, the other folks said and say to the Lutherans, but what good is it if the babies can’t believe? And we answer: Oh, not a bit of good at all. Good thing that they can. Or rather, good thing that God can give the gift of faith to an infant. Faith is always impossible for human beings no matter their age. It only comes if it ever comes as a divine gift, freely given. So Psalm 22:9 “You took me from my mother’s womb, YOU MADE ME TRUST IN YOU on my mother’s breast.” In the OT through the gift of circumcision but in the NT through the gift of Baptism. What did Peter preach on Pentecost?

“Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, for the promise is for you and your children.” They are not to be excluded from the place where in the mighty working of God sin is forgiven: the waters of Baptism. That’s where the triumph of the cross is forked over first and foremost. Amen.


Unknown said...

Ah, what's the matter, Pr. Weedon? Can't/won't defend yourself so you just delete comments to avoid having to do so? GIve me an honest answer. --Chris

William Weedon said...

Christopher, one of the reasons I almost deleted the blog was because I lack the time to respond to it properly. And certainly have no time today to defend myself or the Synod against the charges you leveled. So I simply choose to delete (I can do that; it's my blog!) comments that I regard as trolling for an argument. I will do so with future comments as well. Yours tend to be among the ones deleted most often and usually due often to the combative and, well, prideful tone in which they are composed.

Jeff said...

What a wonderful sermon and beautiful reminder of our baptismal grace. Thank you Pr. Weedon!

Unknown said...

Pr. Weedon,

It was a good question and was not prideful. THe only reason you believe it was uttered with pride is because I was questioning you. I fail to see the logical consistency with denying infants and the young the Holy Eucharist while giving them Baptism. Again, it is God working in these mysteries. Why should God work in only one? Are not both good for the forgiveness of sins and the preservation of the faith, even if one is too young, too incapable of understanding?

Secondly, please stop calling me Christopher. Yes, it's my name, but I can only assume you are doing so to patronize me much in the same way my mother calls me Christopher when she finds fault for me. You're not my mother, nor any authority figure for me so lay off. I address you by your title and last name. You may call me Chris or, if it suits you better, Dr. Palo. Those are your only choices.

William Weedon said...

Dear Chris,

I forgot you hate to be called by your Baptismal name. Sorry!

I'll not get into a debate with you on this topic, but the standard Lutheran approach is to note that "remembrance" is of the essence of the Supper in a way it is not of Baptism. And, something Orthodox should surely understand, communion of infants was not part of our received tradition.

Unknown said...

My baptismal name is John. I'm not ashamed of my given name, but prefer the familiar to the formal.