Water & Words. Reformation 500 Sermon.



I do not even pretend to have just a glimpse of memory of my own Baptism! I was just 3 months old, when my parents carried me up to the old baptismal font of the Church in Ryslinge. And I have no memory, what so ever of that wonderful day and of the following and infamous baptismal dinner and dance, my parents hosted in their garage. I have seen photos and even some silent old cine clips, and they seemed to have had a really good time. My young parents and their young cousins, supervised by my grandparents and strict aunts. Celebrating my baptism and celebrating the joy of life and youth.

I think, I have a dim memory of my little sister’s baptism though, that we were indeed once again in Ryslinge Valgmenighed; or maybe I only remember because I have seen photos. Photos of the 2 older sisters posing with the little chubby new sister.

But I quite vividly remember the baptism of our sons. In July 1998 and in December 2000: joyous blessed days of celebration of the most precious gifts that we have ever received.

There simply is not better way to celebrate the gift of birth and a new little human being, a better way to show your gratitude, and to express your hopes and faith and love – than at the ceremony of baptism.

I think most parents feel like this and fondly remember the baptism, as this day of faith and hope, family, and love. It is indeed always a blessing and a privilege, when we celebrate a baptism here in church. The baptismal font is the focal point in any church.

But while the day itself may be a big deal, our emphasis on baptism seems to end there and fade through the years. Very few parents remember the exact date of their own baptisms or remind their children to remember theirs. (Just a quick survey: how many of you can exactly state, what date and year you where baptized?)

And yet Martin Luther said: “Every time you wash your face, remember your baptism.” Yet, mostly, we do not think about baptism faith and hope while showering, but we think about to remember to buy new shampoo, the hectic plans of the days or the longing for the morning coffee cup.

Maybe in a true Reformation 500 way we need to remember and reclaim our baptism. Former presiding Bishop Mark Hanson often encouraged us to remember our baptism, when he was preaching or talking to crowds. And he often sprinkled us with baptismal water!

 There are many ways to remember our baptism and be glad. We can affirm it in words and in celebration of baptism, in our services, and we can remember it in life itself.

We could and should begin each morning with an affirmation. And what better way than to remember, when we shower in the morning, feeling the water shower, you face, your hair and your entire body.

Today I will give you a Shower tag, that you can place in your shower and recite it, when you shower. It says: “Lord, as I enter the water the bathe, I remember my baptism. Wash me by your grace. Fill me with your spirit. Renew my soul. I pray that I might life as your child today, and honor you in all that I do. “

Water and words. That is what baptism is.

Water and words.

Martin Luther said it so simply and yet so profound: “Baptism is not simply plain water. Instead, it is water used according to God’s command and connected with God’s word. … For without the word of God the water is pain water and not a baptism, but with the word of God it is baptism, that is, a grace filled water of life.”

Baptism is a beautiful, bold, and deep meaningful ceremony. The Baptism Ceremony is a physical manifestation of love: it is the first love encounter between God and the child. This encounter and blessings tells us that we are not alone, that you belong to God. And it is a wonderful act of love when we as parents carry our children to God as ask him to carry when we cannot.

Baptism is indeed water and words.

The words from Matthew when the Disciples are sent into the world to baptize, the story from Mark when Jesus took the small children in his arms and blessed them, and finally in the Apostle Creed, where we confess our faith but even more renounce all what is evil as we trust God.

We commit our beloved children and their lives and day into the hands of God, as we know that we cannot guarantee to be there all the way .


Baptism is water and words.

WE do not just baptize or bless out of the blue – there is a navigation tool in the Apostle Cred. We confess, what we believe to be true, good and divine, and we renounce what is false, bad and evil.

This is not something we figured out. We are baptized into a thousand year old tradition and we are in a deep relations hip with God, as creator, as Christ and as Holy Spirit.

We use these grand words and promises at baptism, because less cannot do it. We celebrate baptism, and we celebrate the relationship to God and to the church.

Every child is a child of God. But God wants the child to be born into a family, a fellowship, a relationship based on faith, hope and love. Baptism shouts out and showers us in the promise that you are not alone, you do not live alone.

Some might say that baptism is just a ritual, it just some good practical advice and simply a traditional cultural celebration.

But baptism is so much more. Baptism is water and words. Water and Grace.

It is Gods promise to bless and keep the child through all the paths and years of life. For the child and the human being, it is like a compass to give you directions. And to the parents it is a choice to create a relation and connection between light, love, and fellowship and renounce death, loneliness and the demons of darkness.

After the sermon, we are to sing one of the newer Lutheran Baptism hymns, that I have come to cherish. “I was there to Hear your borning cry.” By John Ylvisaker.

“ I was there to hear yoru borning cry,

 I’ll be there when you are old.

I rejoiced the day you were baptized,

 to see your life unfold.”

It is indeed one of the most popular hymnals in recent years. The ballad style of the music lends itself to a feeling of a love song. A love song between God and the singer. The hymn is about God who loved us from the beginning of time and continues to love us throughout the different seasons of our lives.
The use of folk sources is embedded in Mr. Ylvisaker’s Lutheran heritage of the chorales, many of which had folk influences and provided the basis for the congregational song heritage of the Lutheran Reformation. 
In addition to the lyrical melody and text that allows God to sing a love song to humanity, “Borning Cry” gives us a sense of the timelessness of God.
While we think of ourselves as finite beings, God re-creates us and gives us new life in the baptismal waters, a spiritual regeneration that lasts for eternity.


“ I was there to hear yoru borning cry,

 I’ll be there when you are old.

I rejoiced the day you were baptized,

to see your life unfold.”

Baptism is indeed water and words. And so much more. Amen