Exodus and the Sacraments: Font (1) - including reflection on racism, Charlottesville, and baptism

. 4 min read

August 2017, Christ Mountain Top
to Worship, Psalm 114, p 835
Acts 8.26-40
Exodus 14.1-31
Moment: Reforestation in the Congo
to this series of messages:
      4 passages in Exodus that are the basis
for extensive NT reflection on the sacraments – Table, Font, Table, Font
      2 are part of the exodus proper
(deliverance from Egypt)
      2 are part of the wilderness experience
we will be reading these Exodus passages through the lens of the NT, not the
way our Jewish friends read these passages.
Passover references (last week, the Table) to “a mixed crowd” and to provisions
for the alien to share in the feast (and the religious community) explicitly
open Israel to those who are not Israel – not on the basis of creation but on
the basis of redemption.
      In our nation, we declare a “self-evident
truth” that “all are created equal”. It is obvious, in recent events, that the
truth of being created equal is not self-evident to all. It is a wonderful
aspiration, but we are not there yet. In addition, one may ask, to what degree
are we created equal, or, in what ways are we created equal? To say that we are
equally human and equally in the image of God is powerful truth from Jewish and
Christian theology. However, we are not born with equal opportunity, equal
ability, equal access. That fact, and the human desire of those with privilege
to reinforce that privilege, has led even Christian people to support racism on
the basis of how we are created – skin tone, first language, other
“racial-ethnic” features, ability and disability.
      Creation, the created order, was used as
theological justification for American slavery and for South Africa’s apartheid.
It was a theological basis for Hitler’s Germany and for neo-Nazis. Now, it is
not creation theology as biblically constructed, but it is nevertheless built
on pieces of Scripture perverted by hatred but dressed up in holiness.

week, we saw how the Passover – and the Lord’s Table – eliminate our hoped for
exceptionalism, for being inherently superior, instead making us equal as
sinners and equal as saints. The Jewish firstborn are delivered not because of
any moral superiority or ethnic birthright but because of the blood of the Lamb
– because they were “redeemed”, to use the language of the story itself.
second leg of the deliverance and redemption story is Israel passing through
the Sea, through water, an obvious starting point for reflection on baptism
through the lens of the New Testament. And the New Testament makes that
connection explicit:
Corinthians 10:1-4
 our ancestors were
all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,  2 and all were baptized into Moses
in the cloud and in the sea,  3
and all ate the same spiritual food,  4
and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock
that followed them, and the rock was Christ.
Baptism signals and ushers
in a new humanity/new creation
 As many of you as
were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  28 There is no longer Jew or
Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female;
for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.  29
And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according
to the promise.
is nothing less than a new beginning, what Paul calls elsewhere a “new
creation” (2 Corinthians 5.17). That is, baptism is not just about individual
“new creatures” but about entering an entirely renewed “creation”. The story of
Jews and Gentiles is now joined in one new people, and the implication of
breaking down that single barrier is that all other social barriers are broken
down as well. Paul mentioned, specifically, male and female (gender), slave and
free (class), though there are others that could be listed here as well.
room for the cry that we must preserve American culture (white culture). No
room to go back to a lost past. Why?
      Because God makes all things new
      Because baptism declares the merging of
the two stories
            Jew and Gentile
            Slave and free
            Male and female
            Muslim and Christian
            Gay and straight
dividing line in our world is overcome by baptism and the new world it heralds.
Baptism signals and ushers
in a death and resurrection
 we have been buried
with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the
dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.  5 For if we have been united with
him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection
like his.  6 We know that our
old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and
we might no longer be enslaved to sin.  7
For whoever has died is freed from sin.  8
But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
dimensions of this gift:
      New start for a new life
      Repentance and cleansing
techniques in the struggle for civil rights do much to celebrate the dignity of
the downtrodden. . . . Yet their uniqueness is greatest at the point of their
protecting the dignity of the adversary.” Yoder, 41

      We preserve, by non-violence, the
voluntariness of the other, the opportunity for repentance.