This week is a “can’t-miss” Sunday. Throughout the morning, we will welcome thirteen new members, baptize two babies, and baptize three of our confirmation students.
Baptism is such an important part of our worship as we celebrate God’s transforming work in people, through Jesus Christ. So, I wanted to spend a little time sharing our theology of baptism.
Baptism and Communion are the two sacraments where we believe that God gives special grace for His Church. Both sacraments were instituted by Jesus and are practiced out of obedience to His command. In baptism, God provides a special means of grace and is at work in the one baptized and in the community. Baptism is a “sign” that God is at work in the life of the one baptized and a “seal” giving the baptized an identity as part of the community.
Every baptism has three necessary components:
- Water – water represents the need for our lives to be clean, to move from death to new life in Christ.
- A Trinitarian Proclamation – Christian baptisms are made “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
- A Profession of Faith – in the case of an infant, a parent makes a profession of faith which stands in for the child until the child professes their own faith, often made public at confirmation. A parent also commits to raise their child in the faith, and the congregation joins in partnering with the parents to teach the child the good news of Jesus. In every other case, the baptism candidate makes their own public profession of faith.
From its earliest days, the Church has practiced baptism in three modes – Sprinkling, Pouring, or Immersion. Obviously, Jesus was immersed in the Jordan River (See Matthew 3:14-17). In the Book of Acts, household baptisms occurred where children were included (See Acts 16). Sprinkling and pouring (using a bowl to pour water on head) are appropriate for all baptism candidates. Immersion is appropriate for older children, students, or adults. Presbyterian polity has always allowed for all modes of baptism, but without baptismal pools, Presbyterians have performed fewer immersion baptisms.
This Sunday, we will perform baptisms by both sprinkling and immersion. For the first time, we will be able to immerse two of our confirmation students in our worship services. In the past, we have immersed those who chose that mode in pools or rivers. Now it is exciting that you can be a part of these baptisms and celebrate these professions of faith in our worship services. Many of our peer Presbyterian churches have added this way of baptism and have shared how meaningful it is.
I can’t wait to experience this with you! God continues to grow our church deeper – as we grow in our faith together – and wider – as more and more people become a part of our church – professing their faith in Jesus.
I’ll be preaching week two of our new sermon series, COMING HOME. Sunday, we will turn our microscope onto the younger brother. He knew that the choice to ask for his inheritance before his father died was a mistake. He knew the consequences, but he did it anyway. But even a half-hearted apology doesn’t keep the father from running to forgive his younger son.
I said last week that there is NOTHING you can do to make God love you LESS, and NOTHING you can do to make God love you MORE. Praise God for His unfailing love for us!
Dr. Marnie Crumpler