The holy sacrament of Baptism is the first sacrament of the Presbyterian faith. It is the first traditional sign and seal of the covenant made with us in Jesus Christ, and the first sign of the Christian identity.
Baptism is the sign and seal of the covenant God has made with us in Jesus Christ. Our Christian identity begins in baptism, and in this sacrament we are marked forever as Christ's own. Baptism assures us of our cleansing from sin, of our participation in Christ's death and resurrection, and of our welcome into the community of believers, the Church. As part of the covenant community, we baptize children as they grow into their faith. Adult and youth believers are baptized as they make a decision to enter the covenant community and to follow Christ. Baptism is “dying and rising with Jesus Christ; pardon, cleansing, and renewal; the gift of the Holy Spirit; incorporation into the body of Christ; and a sign of the realm of God” [from proposed Directory for Worship, W-3.0402].
Dying and rising. Water gives life and water kills. We cannot live without water. And yet few things are as terrifying as being at the mercy of fast-moving, deep water. In baptism we speak of dying and rising with Christ. This is visually demonstrated in baptism by immersion, when we simulate going into the watery grave with Christ and coming up to new life in Christ.
Cleansing. In baptism we see the cleansing, the cleaning power of water. We experience daily the cleansing power of water with our food, our bodies, our things. In baptism we experience the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit. The practice of the pouring of water visually demonstrates the cleansing power of water.
Being gifted with the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures speak of the Spirit’s presence as anointing. In some mysterious way, the act of baptism brings with it the anointing, the presence of the Holy Spirit. The practice of making the sign of the cross on a person’s forehead or similar acts demonstrate the anointing power of water.
Being incorporated into the body of Christ. Baptisms are not private, but take place in the Christian community. You cannot baptize yourself. The practice of welcoming the newly baptized into the community visually demonstrates this incorporation. Sometimes when a young child is baptized, the minister takes the child away from the parents/sponsors and walks through the congregation with the new member of the body. This shows that the primary relationship for this person is the body of Christ, not the blood relationships of family.
Seeing a sign of God’s realm. When Jesus came along, echoing the prophets, that the day of the Lord had come, it signaled that his followers were to live in a new way. The waters of baptism communicate a newness of life, in which we repent of our old ways and turn and follow Jesus in a new direction.
We Presbyterians emphasize the covenant aspect of baptism. When we baptize infants we emphasize God’s gracious movement toward human beings, connected to us, through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
If you would like to be baptized or have your child baptized, please make an appointment with the pastor about the process. We would love to welcome another child or believer into God’s covenant community of faith through Jesus Christ.