Baptized into His Death

Jessica Bratt Carle

Read: Romans 6:1-5

We will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (v. 5)

For those of us in Christian traditions where infants may receive the sacrament of baptism, the emphasis around baptism is usually on the gift of the Holy Spirit and the entrance into Christ’s body, the church. Being washed from sin and sharing in the righteousness of Christ are also highlighted. But as this passage indicates, baptism is also a sacrament that marks the passage of death on the way to new life. One who is baptized is also symbolically bonded with the death of Christ. We not only die to sin in a spiritual sense, we also are marked by the journey of Christ’s physical death and resurrection.

Talking about death around the baptism of a fresh-faced newborn baby seems morbid, but in truth the many layers of baptism’s meaning serve to awaken us to the deeper realities at work in life and in death. In baptism we acknowledge God’s claim over a human life, and we commit to supporting the newly baptized disciple—no matter his or her age. The baptism promises shape our lives, but they also resound with importance when we face death. Remembering our baptism when facing death allows us to frame the situation, difficult as it may be, within a broader story of God taking on flesh and overcoming death for our sake. Our grief is real, just as Christ’s death was real. May the resurrection hope be tangibly real to us as well. —Jessica Bratt Carle

Prayer: Thank you for embracing us in the covenant promises of baptism, at life’s beginning and at its end.