By Robert F. Hull Jr.
Sometimes we do not see the wealth of our own church practices until we worship with people whose practices differ from ours. From Easter to Pentecost you will hear in many churches, especially those in the Anglican, Lutheran, and Catholic traditions, the words “remember your baptism.” If you were to worship in some of these churches, you would even see a large vessel of water brought in as a visual reminder of baptism.
It is especially during the season when we focus on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus that the baptistery and the table seem so close. We remember that Jesus once asked his disciples, James and John, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” (Mark 10:38, Revised Standard Version). To “drink the cup” in this sense meant to undergo suffering, and certainly when we drink the cup we remember the Lord’s death. We remember also the words of Paul: “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4, RSV).
Ours is the fellowship of those who have died and been raised with Christ, those who have been cleansed and invited to sit at the table with our risen Lord. Fortunately, we do not need a large bowl of water brought into our churches; we already have a whole tank of water standing by. In the church where I worship, the baptistery and the Lord’s table stand close together. In our hearts and minds, they should never be far apart.
Prayer: Gracious Lord, in your love you made us for yourself, and when we sinned you sent your Son to redeem us and reconcile us to yourself. We celebrate now the memorial of our redemption. Gratefully, we remember our baptisms, in which we died to an old way of life and were raised to a new life.
Thank you for these gifts of the bread and cup that recall to us Jesus’ death and resurrection. Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit that they may be for us the holy food and drink of new and unending life in Christ, through whom we pray. Amen.
Robert F. Hull Jr. serves as professor emeritus of New Testament with Emmanuel Christian Seminary, Johnson City, Tennessee.