Tuesday, May 12, 2020

e-vo for May 12

Dearest e-votees,

This Sunday one of our appointed lessons is 1 Peter 3:13-22.  It speaks of suffering.  It speaks of those who survived the flood in Genesis 6-9.  It makes a connection between the truths conveyed in the story of Noah and the flood and the truths and promises conveyed in baptism.  What might it say to us?



Many baptismal fonts are octagonal (8-sided). There are several explanations of this shape and its connection to baptism.  I will sketch out the first two briefly and look at the third in a little more depth:

Explanation 1:  
In the prologue of Genesis God creates the world in six days and then takes a day of rest--the Sabbath.  These seven days brought shape to the 7-day week and marked time from then on.  When Jesus came into the world he came to his death in one last Holy Week.  On Easter morning he came back to life in a way and a day unlike any that had preceded.  It was like an 8th day of the week (cue up the Beatles).  The 8-sided font represents our resurrection hope as an Easter people.

Explanation 2:  
In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) Jesus sends the disciples into all the nations baptizing and teaching them.  Some see in this a compass rose.  The 8 points of the compass (N, E, S, W, NE, SE, SW, NW) represent going out into all the world with good news of the gospel.  The is part of the work into which we are baptized.  The 8-sided font represents the good news that is for all and we are charged to convey.

Explanation 3: 

In the flood account in Genesis (and referenced in 1 Peter) there are 8 who survived the flood.  The 8 were Noah (and his wife), Ham (and his wife), Shem (and his wife) and Japheth (and his wife).  The flood came as a result of widespread sin in the world.  The waters of the flood came as a judgment and a means of deliverance from the sin and its grip on the world.  1 Peter connects these 8 people who were saved in the flood with baptism.

In baptism there is a reckoning with our sinful nature.  We are all at our core sinful beings.  We don't always do what is right.  Even when we do what is right we don't always do it with the right motivations.  We push away from God's best intentions for us and for all of creation.  We grieve God and we grieve ourselves and we grieve others by what we do and what we left undone.  God has determined that there needs to be a reckoning with our old (unredeemed) Adam and our old (unredeemed) Eve.  There is a death and a drowning that needs to occur.  Baptism is a ritual drowning.

But God doesn't abandon us.  God does not leave the dead in the grave (that is our Easter hope).  God raises up our new (redeeemed, reborn, restored) Eve and our new (redeemed, reborn, restored) Adam.  There is new life and new hope and resurrection at work.  There is a saving work in the waters of baptism.

The 8-sided font represents the drowning and raising of our selves in the water of baptism.  We are a resurrection people.  We are alive and have begun eternal life.  Even though our bodies will die there is the sure and certain promise that God will not abandon us to the depths of drowning nor the painful and stifling isolation of our sin nor the darkness of the grave.  

Christ's work on the cross was done once and for all on the cross.  As 1 Peter 3:18 says:  "For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God.  He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit,"  Rest is the good news and saving work accomplished in the cross and applied to you in your baptism.

Dear Jesus, bring your 8-sided promises conveyed in baptism to bear on us this day and forever.  Amen.

1 comment:

Pastor Dave said...

I like this explanation of the eight sides. I remember that you used this in a sermon last year, but I had forgotten the details.