The Epistle for this service is Romans 6:3-11, in which Paul delves into the importance of baptism in the Christian's daily life. The Gospel is Matthew 5:20-26, roughly a paragraph from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. The tune that stirred my creative juices was MEINE HOFFNUNG by Joachim Neander, 1680.
Of the scribes and Pharisees?
Who can merit heaven's treasure?
Who is there more pure than these?
Christ alone This has done,
All God's justice to appease.
Though we keep both jot and tittle,
Still our prideful hearts offend:
Pure at large, defiled in little,
By each faithless thought condemned.
Found in sin We would win
Flame and torment without end.
Yet Christ suffered and was buried
In the stead of sinful men;
After slaying death, He harried
Hell itself and rose again.
Now His bath Is our path
Out of sin and death's domain.
Baptized, we have died and risen,
Free to live as slaves of Christ;
His life raises us from prison
As His death paid all our price.
Thus set free, How shall we
Sell ourselves again to vice?
Slain and made alive by Jesus,
We now live, or rather He
Lives in us and more than frees us,
Slaves of death no more to be.
Ours He is; We are His,
Bound to serve Him joyfully.
Knowing this, we love each other,
Taking pattern by His love,
Making peace with any brother
Ere we treat with God above.
Thus God's grace We embrace,
And ourselves are signs thereof.