The Sacrament of Baptism
At its heart, baptism is a sign of our incorporation into Christ, and our entrance rite into the Body of Christ, the Church. “In Baptism, we participate in Jesus’ death and resurrection. In Baptism, we die to what separates us from God and are raised to newness of life in Christ. Baptism points us back to the grace of God expressed in Jesus Christ, who died for us and who was raised for us. Baptism points us forward to that same Christ who will fulfill God’s purpose in God’s promised future.” (Book of Order, W-2.3002)
Further, “Baptism signifies the faithfulness of God, the washing away of sin, rebirth, putting on the fresh garment of Christ, being sealed by God’s Spirit, adoption into the covenant family of the Church, resurrection and illumination in Christ… Baptism enacts and seals what the Word proclaims: God’s re- deeming grace offered to all people. Baptism is God’s gift of grace and also God’s summons to respond to that grace. Baptism calls to repentance, to faithfulness, and to discipleship. Baptism gives the church its identity and commissions the church for ministry to the world.” (BoO, W-2.3005-.3006)
Therefore, the sacrament of baptism is open to all who trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who desire to be his disciple, and who desire to be a part of the life of faith through the church. Additionally, because baptism is a sign of God’s gracious promises to us and the Holy Spirit’s movement in our lives even before we can respond in faith, baptism is not only open to all who trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, but to their children as well (Acts 2:38).
Because baptism is administered only once, as long as one’s baptism has been performed, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” it is recognized as valid in our church, regardless of the church or tradition in which it was preformed. We do not “re-baptize.”
Because of our understanding of baptism as tied to one’s entrance into the community of faith, the church, we do not perform private baptisms. Baptisms are celebrated when the whole church community to gather, usually during Sunday morning worship, and occasionally at other times when the community can gather. Further and with rare exception, it is imperative that when one is baptized as a teenager/adult or has their child baptized, they be/become members of our congregation.
Finally, while baptism is a one-time event (Eph. 4:6), it has life long implications. We believe that baptism forms our identity in Christ, a constant reminder of whose we are, that we belong “In life and in death, body and soul, to [our] faithful Savior Jesus Christ” (Heidelberg Catechism, question 1). It marks us as disciples of Jesus Christ, called, anointed, and commissioned to his faithful service throughout life. The signified spiritual death to sin and rising to new life in Christ also points forward to our hope of physical resurrection to eternal life on the day of Christ’s coming again (Rom. 6). Therefore, baptism calls us to participation in the life of faith both privately and publicly through our personal witness and participation in the life of the church.
If you wish to publicly profess your faith in Jesus Christ through baptism and church membership, or as a member of the church you wish to present your child(ren) for baptism, please speak to Pastor Nathan.