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Homily at a Grandson’s Baptism

Only one thing in life truly matters. Today, Elias receives that one thing that truly matters.

You recall the story of Noah and the ark. I imagine being one of the bystanders as Noah built it. Would I have laughed? Would I have mocked? Why build this boat? Don’t we have more important things to do? No rain is in sight. Life is good. “They were eating and drinking,” says Jesus, “marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:27). The Genesis story puts it in dramatic fashion: “All the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights” (Gen. 7:11–12). I might have laughed; I might have mocked. But once the rain did come, I would have known for sure: only one thing in life truly matters, salvation from destruction.

It is that one thing—salvation from destruction—that Saint Peter talks about in 1Peter 3. “Baptism,” he says, “saves you.” That is strong language. Baptism saves Elias. “Really?” we are inclined to ask. “Baptism saves?” The Apostle Peter claims it does. But why not laugh at the claim? Why not mock with unbelief?

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Hans Boersma is the Saint Benedict Servants of Christ Professor in Ascetical Theology at Nashotah House Theological Seminary. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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