“Watch your ‘buts!’” These cautionary words were often intoned by my mother in her sweet, southern voice. It was her way of reminding the family that “but” was a dubious conjunction; it is a word which has the potential to negate every word that precedes it in conversation or sentence.
This is exactly what is going on in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:
You were among the “uncircumcised”…
You were at one time separated from the commonwealth of Israel…
You were strangers to the covenants of promise…
You had no hope…
You were without God…
…but in Christ Jesus:
You are “the circumcised.”
You have been brought near.
You are no longer strangers or aliens.
You are reconciled.
You have access to the Father.
Baptism, into Christ’s Paschal Mystery, is the “but,” the negating conjunction, where faith and life meet. We come to the font as sinners, but we are sent as the redeemed of Israel, the bearers of the New Covenant, the possessors of hope and the gifts of the Spirit and the knowledge of God. Watch your “buts”; that is where you will see Christ’s work of grace and salvation.
Prayer: God, have mercy on me, sinner that I am. Amen
Today’s devotion was written by Melinda H. Jones,
Pastor of Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church in North Charleston, SC.