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A Word for this Week - Pastor Bill Mugnolo

Week of January 8-14, 2018: “In the Beginning … Water” … Genesis 1:1-2

At the beginning of creation, before God said, “Let there be light”, the earth was “formless and void, there was darkness over the deep” (Genesis 1:2). That same verse tells us that, “God’s Spirit hovered across the face of the waters”. Why did God begin with earth in a “raw” state doused in a coating of H2O? Might there be a deeper meaning to God’s Spirit hovering over those waters?

In the beginning … water. The water and the Spirit at the beginning of creation point to the water and the Spirit together at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry at His Baptism. When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove (Mark 1:10). Then, the other person of the Holy Trinity made Himself known as He called out from heaven to Jesus, “You are my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11).

In the beginning … water. When we are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we are given a new birth by “water and the Spirit” (John 3:5) Yes, the events of both creation and Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan River point to God’s work upon us when we were baptized. Baptism is not about what we do for God as some sort of “symbol” of salvation”: it’s about His saving work directed towards us (1 Peter 3:21). Martin Luther, in his Small Catechism, echoes this truth when he writes of Baptism’s benefits saying, “It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.”

No, Baptism is not some sort of “magic water”: it receives its power only as it is joined to the Word of God and received in faith (Matthew 28:19, Ephesians 5:26, Titus 3:5). Nor is Baptism meant to be a “one shot deal” that is only meant to impact us when we are brought to the font. We are, in fact, to be buried with Christ each day in Baptism (Romans 6:3-4) as we, as Luther puts it, daily drown the Old Adam—that is, our old sinful nature—so that we would continually arise to walk in the newness of life.

In the beginning … water. Together with the Holy Spirit, it was present at creation, at Our Lord’s Baptism, and in our ongoing baptismal life. It was also present at the most important ending of all as from the crucified Christ’s pierced side flowed both water and blood (John 19:34). Both point to our salvation as we are saved by the blood of Christ—a salvation that is both delivered and sealed in the waters of Holy Baptism.


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