Sunday, February 16, 2020 – Epiphany 6

February 16, 2020  

Epiphany 6   2020

Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Our Savior’s La Crosse


Choose life.

The irony of the statement is not lost to me.

Two weeks ago my mother and I embraced death for my father.

He was suffering, undeniably suffering from infections that were battering his body and confusing his brain.

As the two of us sat with my father and the Dr. caring for him, and we discussed each element of his care, we concluded that the best decision we could make for him was to embrace his dying. Antibiotics weren’t strong enough to beat the level of his infections. At best, they would extend his life a day or two, extending his suffering.

We chose in-hospital hospice, specifically comfort care. We stopped everything that was being done to extend his life, choosing to have hospice do everything they could to ease his pain and suffering.

He died 24 hours later.

Fortunately for us, my father’s parents chose “life” for my father almost 93 years ago, first when my grandparents chose to have my father baptized. Then when my father affirmed his faith, saying “yes” to his baptism as a teenager, he chose life.

The choice to baptize, the choice to say “yes” to having been baptized—is a life-giving choice. Don’t misunderstand me, you don’t have to be baptized to have life or to live a good life. But baptism is a choice we make for children or as adults that has life-giving implications. Both in life and at death.

For those of you here in the sanctuary (or if you have a hymnal at home) please turn to page 227 in the front of your hymnal (Evangelical Lutheran Worship).

Follow along as I read the prayer on the left:

God, who is rich in mercy and love, gives us new birth into a living hope through the sacrament of baptism. By water and the Word God delivers us from sin and death and raises us to new life in Jesus Christ. We are united with all the baptized in the one body of Christ, anointed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, and joined in God’s mission for the life of the world.

Through baptism we are given new life.

This is God’s activity in us. God cleanses us. God delivers us. God raises us to new life in Jesus. All of the baptized together, we become the one body of Christ. We become The Church! The Holy Spirit fills us with new life as we go out into the world telling others about the life of love, the life in love we live forever! This new life isn’t just of this world, isn’t just in this world. This new life we live is both now and forever!

Choose life!

Turn to page 231 in your hymnal. Look at the prayer we pray as I lay hands on the person I am baptizing:

Sustain (this person) with the gift of your Holy Spirit: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, the spirit of joy in your presence, now and forever.


My dad was baptized when he was 10 days old. A similar prayer would have been prayed for him as his pastor laid hands on him. For 93 years the Holy Spirit lived in my dad, lived in the decisions he made, lived in all that he learned, lived in and through him as he celebrated the joy of God’s presence in his life. In death, that new life did not end. In death, our new lives do not end for us. We have been given new life because we have chosen life!

Look at the bottom of page 231, at the words the congregation speaks to the newly baptized. Read them with me…

We welcome you into the body of Christ and into the mission we share: join us in giving thanks and praise to God and bearing God’s creative and redeeming word to all the world.

This is what we say to the baby, or the young adult, or the old person who has chosen baptism: welcome! Welcome! You are now a part of this new family, the body of Christ. Welcome! Join us in mission. Welcome! Join us as we give thanks to God. Welcome! Join us as we give praise to God. Welcome! Join us as we take God’s creative Word (Jesus), God’s redeeming Word (Jesus) out into the world!


Join us!

Choose life!

Choose joy!

Choosing life with Jesus Christ is choosing a life that is of this earth and a life that lives beyond time on this earth.

Choosing life with Jesus Christ is choosing joy, joy in the belief that we are forever cleansed and redeemed.

Choosing life with Jesus Christ is choosing joy in the knowledge that we will never be alone because we have God’s Spirit in us, and we have the body of Christ, our family of faith surrounding us.

Choosing life with Jesus Christ is choosing joy in knowing that God loves the world!

Choosing life with Jesus Christ is choosing joy in knowing the wonders of God’s love!

Choose life!

Even in death, life is given. New life. Always and forever.