The Sacraments are visible signs of God’s mercy and grace and are meant to move the heart to believe by what is heard and what is seen. The visible application of water connected with the command and promise of God are merciful means by whcih God accomplishes our salvation and gifts us eternal life.
I mentioned that we are burying people this week and the next and probably into the summer as those that had funerals in the bleak mid-winter are laid into the ground, into God’s acre, the bosum of the church or the dormitory of the faithfully departed. These are all great images and all across the North country you can see these small churches that have been closed, but the cemetery is well kept and cleaned and maintained.
Last week I buried someone in a cemetery where the church had been closed and torn down but a small chapel was opened with the furniture of the church placed reverently inside. It is a metal building, a-frame, and, the lights and other things are powered by solar. It is not the building where the congregation meets, but it can be a place of prayer and meditation. The altar and altar rail which you can see is the half circle we talked about on this blog on November 1, 2017. If you get a chance check that out.
I took the above picture and as it was a busy day and I was in a hurry I missed the baptismal font that was placed over beside the altar. It is ornately carved much like the altar and is quite lovely. I tried to convey to my confirmation class yesterday how important baptism is, since Christ himself commanded us to do it, and because it saves us. Harder to communicate is the sense that any true church must have for baptism.
Luther said that anyone who witness a baptism cannot but see how “meekly and earnestly the Christian Church concerns itself about this little child”.
Leaving that little chapel and cemetery and driving down a lonely country road with the wild wind roaring I was thinking the opposite. I was thinking about how many mom’s and dad’s do not meekly or earnestly concern themselves with their little child’s baptism and in fact they ignore it. Offering them baptism over and over again, and not so much being rebuffed as ignored is frustrating, and in these grey and latter days very sad. These parents make their children “rich in things and poor in soul”. They care not about the things that “make for their peace”.
The folks from that little country church memorialized that churches ministry with that little chapel. In that chapel they witness to their baptism. So I ask those parents that refuse to baptize their children this question – What are you memorializing?