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Wednesday, January 03, 2018

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This reading is fraught with "ammunition" with which Christians have sometimes hurled at one another about the nature and practice of baptism. Baptism is a sign of the unity of Christians. But, because of our disagreements about its nature and practice, baptism also reveals the brokenness of the church. At times, Christians have turned God's gift of visible grace into another way of separating ourselves from other Christians, as well as people of other faiths.

The Apostle Paul, at least, is consistent in insisting on the one thing--the one person--who unites us: Jesus Christ. Through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is the one clear window who reveals the nature of God and the nature of our relationship with God, and through God, with one another. "Jesus loves me; this I know. Jesus knows me, this I love." Everything about our life together starts from there.

Gracious God, forgive us when we turn your gifts of grace into laws that people must obey in order to be considered as your children and entitled to your gifts. Help us to understand and believe that the life you give to us, is a life to be lived for others in grateful response to what you already have given—yourself. Amen.

J. David Whelan, '95
Pastor of Visitation and Care, Central Lutheran Church, Chippewa Falls, Wis.

Acts 19:1-7 (NRSV)

1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples
2 and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."
3 So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" "John's baptism," they replied.
4 Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus."
5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
7 There were about twelve men in all.

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.