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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Powell: Why not butterflies?

In his Bible study Tuesday, Mark Allen Powell posed the question: Why do we mark even tiny children with the cross, a symbol of death, at baptism? Why not something happier? Butterflies ... liturgical face painting? No, we mark the baby with the cross because old life is gone and new life is ours, marked by the cross of Christ.”

Powell looked at the stories of Jesus’ baptism and crucifixion in Mark: “At his baptism the heavens were torn apart, the Spirit entered Jesus and a voice proclaimed: ‘This is my Son!’ ”

In a parallel pattern, at Jesus’ death the curtain in the temple was ripped apart, the spirit left Jesus as the breath of life went out of him, and the voice of the military officer was heard: This was the Son of God.

The rending asunder of heavens and curtains, these are the barriers to God coming down, he said. It is in our baptism that the barriers disappear and show God no longer in the clouds or behind any barrier.

“My sins are marked with the cross of Christ, so the barrier of sin is gone. So let us be who we are, baptized people reconciled with God by grace alone.

“Let us try to be who we will be when death is past. We will be selfless servants, the kind of people who love their enemies as they love themselves. Someday.


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