Guidance

Baptism

The sacrament of Holy Baptism was formally instituted by Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20). It is one of two ways mentioned in the passage by which the Church carries out Jesus’ command to “make disciples” (the other being “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”). Disciples of Jesus are made by baptizing and by teaching.

There is no handier or better summary of the purpose and blessings of baptism than the explanation in Luther’s Small Catechism, which I’d encourage you to re-read. Baptism unites us with Jesus in his death and resurrection (1 Peter 3:21, etc.). It washes away our sins and brings us the gift of the Holy Spirit, and it gives us a new birth into a glorious new life with God (Titus 3:5-6). It both empowers and symbolizes the daily repentance that characterizes the whole life of a Christian (Romans 6:1-7).

The Christian sacrament of Baptism had precursors in various Jewish ceremonial washings and, most of all, in the baptism of John the Baptist. We don’t normally speak of a “change,” however, from John’s baptism to that of Jesus. Both can be called a “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Compare Mark 1:4 and Acts 22:16). Although John’s baptism was temporary in nature (Acts 19:4) – and there is much about John’s baptism that we’d like to know and don’t know – in essence, it gave the same blessings that our baptism gives to us. (from WELS.net website, Questions and Answers section)

 

Weddings & Marriages

A wedding is a worship service!

The center of worship is not the bride but the Lord. The glory is directed not to the bridal pair but to the Triune God. The love story we celebrate is not between sweethearts at the altar, but between Savior and sinners. Every earthly wedding is to be patterned after the union of Christ the bridegroom and his bride the church for whom he died.

A wedding is a worship service to Jesus Christ. What does this mean? It means that a wedding service will contain the same basic elements, which characterize all proper Christian worship: God comes to us in word and sacrament, and we respond with praise and service. Melodies will be tasteful and dignified. Lyrics will speak to God and about God as Scripture does. Guests are reminded to respect the worship traditions of the host congregation. The same fellowship principles, which guide us in other worship services, also apply to weddings.

Must all wedding music be composed in the sixteenth century? No. Is the church organ the only suitable musical instrument for a church marriage service? I don’t believe so. Must a wedding service include a three-part, twenty-minute sermon? It need not have three parts or last twenty minutes. Are the bride and groom allowed a chaste kiss at the close of the service? A kiss too may be done to the glory of God, but it might be wiser to wait until the wedding is over. Is it proper to applaud at the end of a wedding service? I don’t think it is. How much fanfare is permissible? That’s not the right question. For whom is the fanfare intended?

A wedding is a worship service to Jesus Christ. If we follow that principle throughout a service of marriage, more pastors might come to feel as much satisfaction after performing weddings as they do after conducting funerals. (from Forward in Christ article by John Brug)