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From Life to Death and Death to Life
In our baptisms we move spiritually from death to life. We are reminded of this in the words from the service of Holy Baptism: “In baptism our gracious heavenly Father frees us from sin and death by joining us to the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, 227). We begin in death, and grace raises us to life. Still, we tend to focus on the spiritual nature of this change or transformation.
It is easy to forget that by the very nature of that baptism, we can in an instant move physically from life to death for the sake of the life we are gifted with in baptism. We hear the words of promise and trust in the gifts and blessings of baptism, but overlook the accompanying responsibility. Like a teenager with a brand new driver’s license we relish our newfound freedom and may forget all those other drivers on the road whose safety depends upon the new driver.
The new life we receive in baptism is a life that is lived to God each day. On any given day we may be called upon to renounce, in some way, the God we serve and love. On any given day, we may be called upon to stand up for life—or for a life, or for our own life—or for someone’s freedom or safety, or for love, perhaps even under threat of death. Many around the world live that kind of life every day for the sake of the gospel. Jesus encouraged disciples to always be ready for the tests and trials that will somehow surely come. As we grow in the obedience, courage, patience, and love we need to keep the faith in difficult times.
Gospel: Luke 21:5-19
As history moves toward God’s fulfillment there will be frightening signs and events. Before the end, believers will draw strength from their relationship to God and will be given the words they need to testify and to endure without fear.
5When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, [Jesus] said, 6“As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”
7They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” 8And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them.
9“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” 10Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.
12“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17You will be hated by all because of my name. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By your endurance you will gain your souls.”