Monday, August 22, 2016

Baptized with Christ into Death

Years ago, Heather Murray Elkins was the presenter for Johnson Memorial UMC's second convocation. Her theme was "Descended into Hell," and she focused on that line from the Apostle's creed - a line that some of us include and some of us exclude.

Her teaching came to mind as my Sunday school class looked at Romans 6:
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Fahter, so we to might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:3-4)
Heather related the idea of Jesus descending into Hell to the idea that he came to our world, full of suffering and pain. In our baptism, we are called to follow Jesus into his death - into the hell of this world. The image that comes to mind when I think of this analogy (and it may be the one that Heather used) is Jesus being immersed into the water of baptism - buried into death - and rising again. We follow Christ into those waters as we find Christ in the lives of those who are suffering - those who are in pain. Christ came to serve those, and we are called to follow, into the suffering and death of others.

Think then of the flooding that happened in West Virginia in June. Consider all of those who have followed Christ into the suffering of others - into the mud and muck. Into the pain of others. They who are serving to provide flood relief are living examples, to me, of this idea of being baptism into death with Christ, and rising again with Christ.

It is our calling.

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