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Remember Your Baptism

Today on 11 November the church commemorates St. Martin of Tours a former soldier turned missionary bishop to western France in the 4th century. It was also on this day that Martin Luther was brought by his father, Hans to the church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Eisleben, Saxony (modern day Germany) to be baptized. Luther was born just before midnight on 10 November 1483. In those days of high infant mortality there was no time to waste in bringing Luther to the font. The parish pastor at the time was Father Bartholomew Rennebecher who presumably was the Lord’s servant present for the baptism of the infant Luther. The baptism took place in the tower chapel which was completed in 1474. We do not know who served as Luther’s Baptismal Sponsors. The Parish Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Eisleben (Below)

I find Martin Luther’s story to be fascinating, but it can never overshadow what the church is to be about. Hermann Sasse writes about this in 1936 in a collection of his essays entitled The Lonely Way: Selected Essays and Letters 1927-1939. Sasse in 1936 was seeing the church in Germany being overcome by the influences of National Socialism. In effect the prevailing culture was infiltrating the church (something we are seeing today in many places). This has happened before Sasse writes. In 1817, on the occasion of the three hundredth anniversary of the Reformation King Frederick William III of Prussia decreed a union of Reformed and Lutheran Churches in his land. While undermining the Lutheran confession of the Faith the King celebrated Martin Luther by placing his statue all over his realm. Sasses writes this, “at the very moment this doctrine (the doctrine of the Lutheran Church) disappears as ecclesiastical dogma, the veneration of Luther begins.”[1] The Rev’d Matthew Harrison once remarked that as Lutherans we should “beware of Reformation anniversaries” because they always seem to invite veneration of Luther while seeking to wreck the true confession and doctrine of the church.

So being aware of that, on this St. Martin of Tours day, I would suggest that one read the Bible especially the passages dealing with Holy Baptism (Matthew 28; Romans 6; Titus 3; 1 Peter 3...). Take a look at your Small Catechism on the Sacrament of Holy Baptism and remember that Baptism “indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.” Luther puts it this way in the Large Catecheism on Baptism, “No greater jewel, therefore, can adorn our body and soul than Baptism, for through it we become completly holy and blessed which no other kind of life and no work on earth can acquire.” Remember your Baptism and give thanks to the good Lord always.

[1] Sasse, Hermann, and Ronald R Feuerhahn. The Lonely Way : Selected Essays and Letters. Concordia Pub. House, 2001.277-278

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