An Advent Baptismal Exhortation

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8.18-25)

Each and every baptism we celebrate the hope upon which the church focuses each and every Advent season. This is the hope that looks forward to the coming of Christ when he will set all things right fully and finally. This work has already had the firm foundation laid for its completion in the death and resurrection of Christ and is well on its way to be completed, but we are not there yet. This is why we still have hope.

Hope is forward-looking; a thirst for the future. For hope to be hope, Paul reminds us, it can’t be realized. That which is realized is no longer hope. This doesn’t mean that we don’t have any present blessings. We do. It means that there is still more to come.

We are baptized in hope. Baptism gives a real, present standing with God. Being baptized into Christ, according to what Paul says in Romans 6, means that we have left the old world of sin in Adam and we have become a part of the new creation that has begun in Christ Jesus. We have died to the old creation and been raised with Christ in the new creation. As we heard in Romans 8 just a moment ago, we have “the firstfruits of the Spirit;” that is, we have the beginning of the harvest that looks forward to the full harvest to come. Those of us in the church, the realm of the Spirit, enjoy the beginning and promise of the fullness of the new creation.

The first of those blessings given to us is baptism through which God graciously incorporates us into the Spirit-filled body of Christ, the church. As members of Christ’s church, all of the promises of God in Christ are promised to us, not the least of which is the redemption of our bodies.

Our bodies being washed with water is no small matter. Words are not merely spoken over us. We don’t just meditate on a proposition. Our bodies get wet. This is indicative of what it means for God to save us. Our bodies being a part of this creation are being saved with the rest of creation. But in order for this to happen, we must re-created through death and resurrection.

Creation and re-creation through water is common in Scripture. The original creation was formed from water. When it was destroyed in Noah’s day, a new creation emerged from water. Time and again throughout history God transforms creation through the death and resurrection of water. Our old, original creation bodies pass through the waters of baptism, dying, and rise again to become a part of the new creation that is in Christ’s body, the church.

Water baptism gives us a new body in the present–the body of Christ, the church– but is also the promise of God to us concerning the future–resurrection bodies. Because we share in his resurrected body now, we will share in his transformed body in our resurrection. We are baptized in hope. In this hope we eagerly wait for the redemption of our bodies and with that all things in God’s created order to be set right.

Baptism is a time for rejoicing because of the grace of God given to us. But it is also a reminder that we have not yet arrived, for there the creation–which includes each of our children–still need rescuing. The hope that is promised to us in baptism, when joined with faith, causes us to wait in faithful perseverance for all that God has promised.

Today Boaz is baptized in this hope; a hope of which he has little knowledge. God is baptizing him as a part of re-ordering this old world under the lordship of Jesus, setting families back in order in Christ Jesus with the expectation of all things being made right, but Boaz will have to learn what this means. Hunger for this hope must be nurtured in him by those to whom he is given to disciple him.

Jonathan and Stacey, you are Christ’s ministers for the church, given the specific responsibility of rearing up Boaz in the nurture and discipline of our Lord. Continue to work at developing a culture in your home that will demonstrate the beauties of holiness for all of your children so that hunger for our hope in Christ Jesus will be as common to them as their daily hunger for food.

Church, the Anderson family has been given to us to help and encourage in their ministry to Boaz as well as the rest of their children. Let us continue to work at creating a culture that loves the beauties of holiness so that hope for future glory will be nourished in all of us.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen