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  • Writer's pictureAllison Wilcox

The Coming of the Light: Light as Purifier

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is more powerful than I, and I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." ~ Matthew 3:11

We tend to think of baptism - at least in the Lutheran church - as a celebratory day where an infant is gently splashed with water on their head to the delight of the entire congregation.

And through that joyful event, a new child of God emerges into God's family.

But after that water baptism, the child (or adult as the case may be) receives a sign of the cross in oil as the pastor proclaims that they are sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.

At Pentecost, that Holy Spirit comes as fire (and it strikes me right now as I write this that oil is flammable! Hmmmm...)

We are sealed with the fire of God.

The waters of baptism are completed by the fire of the Holy Spirit.

In water we are drowned daily to our sin.

In fire, we are purified daily of our sin.

Baptism is a dramatic event. One that in some ways we have tried to tame.

But it is God's wild, unfathomable, untamable gift of purifying grace.

A gift that we cannot contain.

Question for thought: What is something you remember from the last baptism you took part in? What is the most meaningful part of the baptismal service for you?

Come, O Holy One, for we wait upon you. And light the darkness of our hearts and lives so that we may know your love fully. Amen

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