I’ll just say I hated the text this week. It was harsh and rough, and I couldn’t escape it. Everything I read to prepare for preaching just lead deeper into the heart of repentance. Everything lead to heart rending stories. A better preacher would have been more winsome. Me, all I’ve got is a little logic and I’m too stupid to dial it back a bit and too slow to dodge. I hope and pray that the Spirit used this better than the words said.
This Sunday there were two things going on. In our community, we had a baptism. In the larger world – the disaster in Haiti. We might not link such things, but the biblical answer is actually very close. The Bible talks about Baptism as being a dying and a rising. In Baptism we are burried with Christ so that we will also rise with Him.
There are some common refrains when looking at disasters – what did they do (a la Pat Robertson), why would god allow this (the agony of theodicy), or just how do I avoid them. Jesus is pretty clear in Luke 13:1-5. Sorry Pat Robertson, but disasters are not special judgement. That does not mean we don’t deserve them. Jesus’ answer is that it is only grace theat the whole world doesn’t get them. The entire world is that sinful. That response really answers the second – why would God allow if he was good? The answer is that a non-loving and graceful God would have destroyed everything long ago. Both of those answers are heavy on the law. They are good and true, but hard words for sinners.
The gospel is the answer to the last question – how to I avoid disaster? In this world, you really can’t. It is a fallen world that is groaning under that curse. But God came to share it with us and to redeem it. We pass through the disaster. In baptism, God pulls us through the disaster.
Putting on eternal eyes, this world is one big Haiti to God. It is one big disaster operation. And Baptism is the rescue operation. The hopeless, poor and defeated of this world, find the cure in the waters of Baptism. We die to this world, but we rise to the next through the promises of Baptism.