I remember Emory Hingst (pastor at University Lutheran in the 60s) telling a story about an early University Lutheran Easter service that they held in one of the Tallahassee cemeteries. The experience was palpable with the sense of victory over the grave as the people gathered to worship the King of Life who rose from the tomb in the midst of tombs. The service started off with a trumpet blast, which apparently was enough to wake up the old guy who had been sleeping behind one of the tombstones the night before.
This past Sunday we confessed the 4th part of Baptism from the Small Catechism:
“What does Baptizing with water indicate?It indicates that the Old Adam should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
I guess there are two ways to use this story, one in which the old guy is a picture of the hope that we all have to Resurrect and rise from our own tombs. That’s not how I’m going to use it today. Today, I’m going to use this old guy as a picture of this “Old Adam,” the scraggaly bearded, hungover, dirty guy who passed out behind a tombstone (I realize that I may not be putting the best construction on this old guy, but the picture of what our sinful “Old Adam” looks like is apt). That’s what my Old Adam looks like, my sinful old self that by my Baptism “should be drowned and die”.
The trumpet of victory is sounded, and he awakes to flee. The noise, the brightness, the cheer — well, it’s just too much for him. He feels like he’s drowning. And so he leaves. And so it is with us, every day. We wake up and face that “Old Adam” in the mirror with morning breath and disheveled hair, and we sound the trumpet of our Baptisms. “I am Baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” And he gets up from behind that tombstone and leaves.
Sound your trumpet today, brothers and sisters. Say to that Old Adam, “I am Baptized, Christ’s blood has covered me, I am set free from sin, death, and the devil,” and see who leaves and who stays.