Gabriella’s Trip to the Jordan

The following is a letter I wrote to my daughter to celebrate her Baptism a couple of weeks ago. It’s based on baptismal imagery used both by Luther and the early Church fathers, of the Baptismal font as the Christian’s “little Jordan”.[1]

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My daughter’s “Little Jordan” at the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus, St. Louis, MO (Photo: Michelle Knauss)

Dear Gabriella Joy,

I’m writing you this letter to tell you about a very special trip you took when you were a baby. On May 7, 2016, when you were only a couple of weeks old, your mommy and daddy took you to a river. It wasn’t just any ol’ river, though. This was a life-giving river, rich in grace and overflowing with forgiveness.

We took you there so that you could meet Jesus, your Savior. When we got there, He reminded us that you needed to take a dip because of how dirty you were. It’s partly mommy and daddy’s fault – the only clothes we had to put on you were covered in pride, selfishness, lust, fear, and guilt.

Jesus told us to bring you to Him, so that he could get rid of those dirty clothes. You see, He didn’t want you to be dirty anymore, because that would have meant that He couldn’t be with you! He loves you so much that He couldn’t stand the thought of being apart from you. But, He couldn’t stand to be around those stinky clothes, either!

So, do you know what Jesus did? He took you into His arms, and then into the water:

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Daddy’s professor, Dr. Sánchez baptized you (Photo:Michelle Knauss)

I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

When you came out from the water, you weren’t wearing those dirty clothes of yours any more. Jesus had taken your dirty, stinky clothes away from you. Instead, you were wearing the clothes that He gave you. You were wearing Jesus’ wonderfully white, perfectly pure robe of righteousness.

Your mommy and daddy couldn’t believe how beautiful you were! You had Jesus’ faithfulness, holiness, purity, and righteousness all over you! You were dripping love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness all over the place.

Everyone who was there – your Nana and Papa, Grandma D, Uncle Joel, Aunt Sara, your brothers and sisters in Christ – was so happy about what we saw that we couldn’t help but start singing:

God’s own child I gladly say it

I am Baptized into Christ!

He, because I could not pay it,

Gave my full redemption price.

Do I need earth’s treasure’s many?

I have one worth more than any

That brought me salvation free

Lasting to eternity! Lutheran Service Book, 594

The day you took that special trip to your “little Jordan” – the day of your Baptism into Christ – was one of the happiest days of my life that I will never, ever forget. I hope this letter will help you to never, ever forget it, either.

[1] To see how this image is used by the early church fathers and then appropriated in Luther’s baptismal catechesis, read Teología de Sanctificación: La espiritualidad del cristiano, (Sánchez, pp. 75-83).

 

 

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