Baptism: Not Once in a Life-Time


Christmas and the Christmas season is officially done, because yesterday was the celebration of the Epiphany. However, a number of us are not aware of or lack knowledge about the Epiphany which celebrates the arrival of the wise men, who have been following the light of a star.

When we hear “epiphany”, we think of the light bulb and “ah ha, I get it now” moments of revelation. Imagine the ‘ah ha’ moment of the wise men before the Christ child.

We are in a season called the Time after Epiphany, when we will look at the manifestations of who Christ is and what his public ministry/mission will be. Therefore, it is a season of light bulb moments (epiphanies). This season always begins with the Baptism of Our Lord.

It always begins with the Baptism of Our Lord for good reason for in all the Gospel accounts (especially in Mark), it is the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. It is also one of the biggest “ah ha” moments for Jesus, John, and the community as a whole (depending on the Gospel account).

In Mark’s account, Jesus the Christ and John the Baptist will be the only two who hear this revelation coming from heaven: “This is my Son, the beloved, with him I am well pleased”.

It is also a day when we are called to remember our own baptisms, because within our own baptismal waters we have the same revelation that we also are the sons and daughters of God. We are beloved. God is well pleased with us.

BUT, we also tend to think that our baptisms are a onetime event.
We come to the waters once.
We are baptized once.

This is true, but not true (at the same time).

We are called to return to our baptismal waters and to the promise to commit ourselves to lives of mercy and compassion, seeking justice, and serving both God and neighbor every single day. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

It is not easy. It is not an easy task, BUT it is what we are called to do.

A favorite teaching of mine from Martin Luther has to do with baptism. He wrote about how God’s work with, in, among, and through us (I would add despite us too) does not just happen or end in baptism; baptism is merely the beginning point.

Luther writes that we awaken each day to see Adam (the old self and our sin) swimming in the water and each morning we must drown it once again, but only to find it the next morning still swimming in the fount. In fact, he writes it is a process only completed in the moment of our death.

Our lives of faith, our commitment to God, our revelations and ‘ah ha’ moments, and our baptismal promises are not a onetime thing but rather the beginning of a life-long process.

When I was a Junior High student in Confirmation, my mentor pastor told us that he had an easy way to help us recall and remember our baptism EVERYDAY. He did and it might sound silly, BUT anytime you are washing your hands, washing your face, or taking a shower… imagine that the water washing over you (like the Holy Spirit) is taking all the grim, the dirt, and the sin of the day right down the drain with it in order that you can be reborn, resurrected, restored, and renewed to continue the process again.

During this Time after Epiphany, we will get call stories and miracles to reveal understanding about Jesus’ life and ministry. May we all have our own revelations each day as we remember our own baptisms rooted in that of Jesus the Christ. Amen.

Focus Scripture was Mark 1: 4-11
Originally Preached on January 7, 2018 at Trinity Lutheran Church (Union City, IN)

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