The image presented here is of a painting by the internationally known artist Makoto Fujimura – it is entitled “Golden Sea.” (To the right is a poster version we have purchased, and which hangs in the church entranceway.) And for this sermon I would actually like to do something a little bit different. I’d like to explore the question of baptism partly by looking at this painting. And rather than beginning with my own reflections, we are going to begin by viewing a short, 6-minute documentary video. It’s a video that gives a little bit of a sense of who Makoto Fujimura is and of the meaning and significance of his work – specifically of this particular work. One important aspect of his identity that I would point out ahead of time is that Fujimura is a Christian – he came to faith as a young adult and today he is a member of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan.
Our New Testament reading for today is from a letter the Apostle Paul sent to Christians living in the city of Rome. In that letter the apostle offers a foundational statement about who we are – a foundational statement about the identity of those who belong to Christ. Now the truth is that Paul doesn’t spend a lot of time on the question of baptism in this letter – just a few short verses. Yet in his very short discussion of baptism, we discover that baptism captures almost every aspect of Christian faith and life. Here is one key statement that Paul offers on the subject: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death…” Continue reading