Friday, February 23, 2007

Baptism's Continuing Significance

No denomination values Baptism as highly as the Lutheran Church. The Reformed view Baptism largely as an outward sign of an inward thing, a mere symbol. Roman Catholics view Baptism as an initiating sacrament that infuses grace, which they view as a substance, for the purpose of starting one off on the path to salvation. Lutherans view Baptism as a means of grace through which God washes away sin, confers regeneration by the Holy Spirit, creates a living faith in the believer, and unites us to Christ.
Paul says in Romans chapter six, "Or don't you know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death. Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin."
One of the benefits of Baptism that Paul so clearly teaches is that Baptism unites us to Christ so that we may share His life. Luther teaches in the Small Catechism, "It (baptism) indicates that the old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die along with all sins and evil desires and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in rightoeusness and purity forever.
What Luther is teaching in the Small Catechism is that Baptism continues to work daily in the life of the believer, putting to death the old man and bringing to life the new. It happens once, but its effects are ongoing. Each day the Christian is renewed in His Baptism by, "daily contrition and repentance." This fits well with Paul's own assertion in the pages of Holy Scripture telling us that Baptism works new life in the believer, a Christ like life.
The comforts of Baptism are manifold. It assures of the forgiveness of sins and our identification with Christ. It teaches us that God does the saving alone, applying the salvation earned by Christ to us by water and the Word. And it works in us a renewal of life, which although incomplete in this life, has a beginning in Baptism. As often as we return to our Baptism by daily contrition and repentance, we receive the renewing effects of that Baptism and are empowered to live a Christ-like life.
So Baptism has enormous significance for us. It is central to the life of the Christian. That is why we should be reminded of our Baptism and its blessings often, even daily. In our Church we begin our service at the Baptismal font, which is located in the center of the chancel. By doing so we give a visual reminder to God's people that He has called us together as His children in the waters of Baptism where He first put His name upon us. I stick my fingers in the font, draw out its water, and make the sign of the cross over the congregation. I do this not because I believe the water in the font is somehow blessed and made holy water, but because people need every opportunity to be reminded of their baptism and its continuing sifnificance in the Christian life.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

What, 2008 already?

It's hard to believe that we still have almost a year to go before the first primary, yet the presidential campaign is heating up already to the extent that the field is quickly narrowing in both parties to just a few candidates. On the Democratic ticket the field is as bleak as ever. That Hillary or Obama will get the nomination seems to be a foregone conclusion. Either one would be a disaster as the leader of our country.
What is most distressing is that the major candidates on the Republican side seem to be just as bleak. There is not a true conservative in the bunch. Guliani, the frontrunner, is a definite liberal. Mitch Romney, the liberal governor of Massachussets whose positions have been slightly to the left of Ted Kennedy, wants everyone to believe he has seen the light and is the conservative alternative in the race. John McCain, although strongly conservative in key areas, is one of the authors of the infamous, liberty destroying McCain-Feingold bill which regulated campaign finance laws and harshly limited free speech in the place we need it most, politics. In addition McCain has bought into the Al Gore, Chicken little, global warming scaremongering that threatens to wreck our economy.
There is, however, an interesting candidate in the field. He is little known because he is not a Washington powerhouse, MSM darling, or Hollywood hopeful. His name is Duncan Hunter, a US representative from southern California, but don't hold that against him. He has been a faithful Reagan conservative since 1980, a strong supporter of the military with 2 sons who have actually served in Iraq. He himself quit college to serve in Vietnam. He believes in a strong national defense, peace through strength, strong border security, and opposes free trade that takes American jobs to third world countries. He is not a phony conservative or a vichy Republican.
I encourage you all to check this candidate out. We need strong leadership in our country and I like his positions.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Conference on the Augsburg Confession

Final Preparations are underway for a new conference on the Augsburg Confession. It will be held on June 23, 2007 at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Marion, Ohio. The purpose of the conference is to renew an interest among clergy and laity in the confessions of the Lutheran Church and to promote a greater fidelity to them.
The speakers for this conference will be Rev. Dr. Lawrence Rast, Rev. Dr. Lloyd Gross, Rev. Terry Cripe, Rev. Lance O'Donell, and Rev. Brett Cornelius. Dr. Rast will give the keynote address on Justification as the heart of the Augsburg Confession. The conference will include 4 breakout sessions on Worship, the Church, The Office of Holy Ministry, and Private Confession and Absolution.
The cost for the conference will be $30.00 for those who register before May 15th and $40.00 at the door. Registration forms will be made available by March 1st, and will be posted at
This conference will, I'm sure, prove to be a blessing to both clergy and laity. I hope that you will all consider attending.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Return of the LLF

The Lutheran Liturgical Forum has been a helpful email forum in the past for discussing liturgical matters and getting information. After a long shut down the LLF is now functioning again. I hope that those who subscribed in the past will continue to do so. If you haven't been a subscriber I invite you to send an email to:
In the past this email list has been the source of some very helpful information on the liturgy, church year, etc. , as well as some interesting debate. I hope that you'll check it out and join us to participate in the discussion.