Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Buried Life

WARNING!!!  This post contains extremely violent language that your old sinful nature will find offensive - even down right homicidal - and one quotation that employs a slang term for a female dog (sorry kids).

And now for something completely different.  The Buried Life.  Maybe you've seen it on we-don't-really-play-music, Music Television (MTV).  Now in its second season, the boys of the Buried Life travel around the country in Penelope (their big purple bus) with the slogan: 1 Question. 4 Boys. 100 Things to do before you die.  They've done everything from #18 - telling a joke on late night television to #59 asking out the girl of your dream (part 1 and 2), living up to those famous words from Dead Poet's Society, Carpe Diem; you know, live like you were dying (and no, I am not a country fan).  So, if they show up in your town you know what they'll ask you: "What do you want to do before you die."  This is what the boys have come to call the buried life.

Sure, it's a quasi-profound question dealing with priorities, interests and existential needs.  But that's not really the question that comes to mind when I watch the show.  No, I'm not thinking of the infamous Evangelism Explosion question: "What would happen to you if you died tonight; where would you go?"

The more I thought about the title of the show the more I couldn't help but think about Baptism: The real Buried Life.  So, perhaps a better question to ask is: "Until you are buried, what can you do before you die?"

We all know water gives life.  Over 75% of the earth's surface is covered in water.  The human body requires vast amounts of water to survive and function properly.  In many ways water gives life.  So, got water?  But water also causes death and destruction - Indonesia, Mississippi River, Katrina.  Water is death.  Just ask Pharaoh and Noah's neighbors.  Water destroys and yet water saves - just ask Jonah.  It's true in daily life just as it's true in Scripture.  Check out Luther's Flood Prayer if you still aren't convinced.  Baptism is a burial.  It is the watery grave of your old sinful nature.  For we pray, that through this saving flood all sin in him, which has been inherited from Adam and which he himself has committed since, would be drowned and die.  This is life by drowning.  This is the buried life.  Dying and rising.  And dying, we live.  For it is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me.

"Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection" (Romans 6).

Baptism takes our old sinful nature (the Old Adam, the sinful flesh) which, according to Scripture is fallen (Romans 3:23), unrighteous and unholy before God (Romans 3:11ff) dead (Ephesians 2) and constantly seeking to justify ourselves before God (Luke 18:9-14) and drowns it.  Glub. Glub. Glub. Our old nature must die.  And even though your old Adam tries to be a regular old Michael Phelps, Baptism is always present tense - I am Baptized.  And the gold-medal winning sinner in each of us is drown through daily divine water-boarding: preaching of the Law, working contrition and repentance.  Yes, Baptism is instantaneous and daily death and it is instantaneous and eternal victory for us in Christ.  And every good battle deserves a victory song, for I will sing unto the Lord for He has triumphed gloriously, the horse and his rider He has thrown into the sea (Exodus 15).

Sin, disturb my soul no longer:
I am baptized into Christ!
I have comfort even stronger:
Jesus' cleansing sacrifice.
Should a guilty conscience seize me
Since my Baptism did release me
In a dear forgiving flood,
Sprinkling me with Jesus' blood?

Satan, hear this proclamation:
I am baptized into Christ!
Drop your ugly accusation,
I am not so soon enticed.
Now that to the font I've traveled,
All your might has come unraveled,
And, against your tyranny,
God, my Lord, unites with me!  (LSB 594)

Baptism also gives life.  The early church catechumens descended into the font, into death, but walked out of the font in newness of life, the new creation of Eden, covered in the righteous robe of Christ and anointed, holy.  Out of the waters of Baptism a new man daily comes forth and arises, who lives before God in righteousness and purity forever.  Baptism is your, "Today you will be with Me in paradise."  "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory" (Colossians 3:3-4).  This is life as we know it, in Christ.

There is nothing worth comparing
To this lifelong comfort sure!
Open-eyed my grave is staring:
Even there I'll sleep secure.
Though my flesh awaits its raising,
Still my soul continues praising:
I am baptized into Christ;
I'm a child of paradise!  (LSB 594)

What else is there to say but Amen, drown me, Lord Jesus!?  That's something even the misfits of the folksy, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou, can understand as Delmar rejoices in the gifts of Baptism:

(Here it comes, kids cover your ears!)

Pete: Well I'll be a sonofabitch. Delmar's been saved.
Delmar O'Donnell: Well that's it, boys. I've been redeemed. The preacher's done warshed away all my sins and transgressions. It's the straight and narrow from here on out, and heaven everlasting's my reward.
Ulysses Everett McGill: Delmar, what are you talking about? We've got bigger fish to fry.
Delmar O'Donnell: The preacher says all my sins is warshed away, including that Piggly Wiggly I knocked over in Yazoo.
Ulysses Everett McGill: I thought you said you was innocent of those charges?
Delmar O'Donnell: Well I was lyin'. And the preacher says that that sin's been warshed away too. Neither God nor man's got nothin' on me now. C'mon in boys, the water is fine.

Indeed, the water is fine.  Welcome to Paradise where all is well in the Buried Life.  What else could you possibly need before you die?  You are free to live and splash in the waters of the Buried Life.  So, what do you want to do, now that you have died?

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