I love a baptismal service on Easter Sunday morning! I love it, because I believe one of the greatest things we can do on Easter Sunday morning is to listen again to the words of the Apostle Paul that are etched onto our baptistery, and remember our baptisms!
As a pastor who has been blessed with the opportunity to remember many baptisms, I will never forget one particular Sunday I walked into the waters of a baptistery like ours.
It was the Sunday after Hurricane Floyd flooded the first house Lori and ever purchased in eastern North Carolina.
I had been wading in waist deep water that Thursday and all day Friday. And then that Sunday morning, one of the first things that I did was to climb down those steps into waist deep water.
I’ll never forget the first words I spoke. I looked out into the congregation from that baptistery, and I said, “You know, standing here this morning in waist deep water is the last place I wanted to be this morning.”
But I then said, “But it may also be first place I need to be this morning!”
Before that Sunday, baptismal water had always represented purity and refreshment to me. It was a water which cleansed one’s spirit and refreshed one’s soul. It was a renewing, invigorating water, life-giving water. Baptismal water was to me like the water from a spring welling up into eternal life from which we could drink and never thirst again.
However, on that particular Sunday, that water came to represent to me something more, something dreadful, something heinous, something sinister. That water came to symbolize destruction, despair; it came to symbolize death.
To the church in Rome, the Apostle Paul said: “Remember that you have been buried with Christ by baptism into death.”
You know what this means don’t you? It means Paul’s house must have flooded too!
Well, probably not. But it does means that Paul understood the destructive forces of sin and evil in our world. It means the apostle Paul understood water to be symbolic of of those chaotic forces, evil forces in our world that seek the drain the very life out of us.
For many of that day, water was a very fitting for symbol for death, as many lost loved ones at sea, folks who who traveled out on the water, encountered a storm and never returned. Therefore, water was something to fear. Water was something to dread.
This is why the picture of Jesus walking on water is so inspiring. Jesus was doing much more than walking on water. Jesus was walking all over the forces of evil like they did not even exist.
This is why when John gives a list of things which we are not going to find in heaven in the 21st chapter of Revelation, “no more sea,” is the first thing on his list. Before no more crying, no more pain, and no more mourning, John says there will be no more sea. One day there will be no more of anything more to fear or dread.
My hope on this Easter Sunday is that Braylen, Brenden, Ethan, Caden, Ashton, Rhianna, Brooke and Angie will always remember their baptisms—Remember that they who have been buried with Christ into death, have also been raised with Christ to walk in the newness of life.
And may each of us remember our baptisms. May we remember that we went under the water, but may we especially remember that we also came up out of that water.
We came out of the water symbolizing that in this world of evil and sin, with Christ we can be more than conquerors.
We came up out of the water symbolizing that in spite of those who attempt to drain the very life of us, in spite of those who never cease in persecuting us, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
We came up out of the water symbolizing that despite the many storms of life that come our way, death, divorce disease, there is nothing in all of creation: no rulers, no powers, no things present, no things to come, no height, no depth and not even death, that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God through Christ Jesus our Lord.
We came up out of the water symbolizing that in all things, God works for the good for those who love God and are called according to God’s purpose.
We came up out of the water symbolizing that when we face uncertain days, even death, we will possess the grace to always remember our baptisms and the glorious message of Easter that our baptisms proclaim!