Do you see that black hump-like object on the loon’s back? That’s a baby loon. I never knew that the loon carried its chicks on its back until my parents moved up to northern Minnesota some twenty years ago, but over the many years since then I have had the opportunity to observe this many times. Now I don’t know how the baby loon grips the body of its parent, but it must be a very powerful grip, because believe it or not the parent loon will dive underwater with its baby on its back to find food, and after several minutes it will re-emerge many yards away from where it originally dove underwater, with the baby still firmly attached to its back!
So what does this have to do with the Gospel? Well, take a look at Romans 6.
3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (NRSV)
Now you’re saying, “what does this have to do with loons?”
What is the operative word in this passage? It’s baptized, or more properly [baptized into Christ]. This is not really talking about water baptism, but rather it’s about being united with Christ.
When we repent of our sins and turn in faith to Christ as our Savior, the Holy Spirit lays hands on us, so to speak, and immerses us into Christ. And by being immersed into Christ we are immersed into His death. We are buried with him, and so also we are raised to new life with him.
The loons are a picture of this. The baby is attached, or united with its parent, and goes under the water attached to its parent. This signifies being united in death. Then the parent comes up once again out of the water with the baby still attached, signifying being united with Christ in the resurrection to new life.
Of course that’s really a very basic picture of the Gospel, but it does offer a wonderful teaching opportunity.