May 29, 2022

The Sacrament of Baptism May 29th, 2022

Preacher:

God of grace and glory,

You call us with your voice of flame to be your people, faithful and courageous. As your beloved Son embraced his mission in the waters of baptism, inspire us with the fire of your Spirit to join in his transforming work. We ask this in the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

While without a doubt Reverend Greg has gone over in great detail with Tim and Danielle the meaning and significance of the Sacrament of Baptism in the life of our Church, I think it’s a good occasion, on such a special day, for all of us to have a refresher on why baptism is so important. But before we do, let’s first look at what a sacrament is and what part it plays in the Christian Church.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word sacrament as, “a Christian rite that is believed to have been ordained by Christ and that is held to be a means of divine grace or to be a sign or symbol of a spiritual reality”. In the Presbyterian Church we celebrate two sacraments, Holy Communion and Baptism, both of which were decreed by Jesus himself.

Here's how Living Faith, which is a booklet containing a summary of our Christian beliefs, published by the Presbyterian Church in Canada, defines these two sacraments, “In Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, there is a sacramental union between the sign and the thing signified, Water signifies forgiveness and new life in Christ: bread and wine, the body and blood of our Lord. The grace effective in the sacraments comes not from any power in them but from the work of the Holy Spirit.”

So, both of these sacraments serve as reminders of the grace which we received from Jesus. Our salvation is not dependent on anything we do, but solely on the grace bestowed on us by our Lord and Saviour, for, as the Apostle Paul wrote, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

And why do we have our children baptized? Once again, from Living Faith, “Baptism is a sign and seal of our union with Christ and with his church. Through it we share in the death and resurrection of Christ and are commissioned to his service. In Baptism, water is administered in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The water signifies the washing away of sin, the start of new life in Christ, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. God’s grace and our response to it are not tied to the moment of Baptism but continue and deepen throughout life.”

When we baptise, we are reminded, celebrate, and respond to God’s pledge of love and care to us. Through the act of baptism, and the vows that the parents and congregation make, God’s presence becomes real to us. The act of baptism provides assurance of God’s love for us. Baptism signifies union with Christ and his Church.

So, the parents have their child baptized because they believe in Jesus and want to raise their child to believe in Jesus. They believe that Jesus is who he says he is – God’s Son. They believe the things that Jesus said and did as they are written in the Bible. And as a result of this belief, they want to know Jesus more and they also want their child to know him. They want their child to know how special God has made them and how much he loves them. The Apostle Mark said, “Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved.” Of course, a baby can’t believe when they are so young, so the parents believe on the child’s behalf, and they promise to help their child to know God so that when the child is older, they’ll come to believe, as well.

Living Faith also says, “Baptism is also an act of discipleship that requires commitment and looks towards growth in Christ. Baptism assures us that we belong to God. In life and in death our greatest comfort is that we belong to our faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.”

So, our baptism marks the beginning of our faith journey which continues on for the rest of our lives. Baptism declares a sense of belonging – a reminder that we are not just individuals or even members of our biological family, but that we belong to the whole family of faith we call the church. Baptism is the sacrament of blessing and welcome.

Jesus makes it clear that baptism marks the beginning of a new life. This is the command he gave to his disciples prior to his ascension to be with God, the Father, “‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” Through our baptism we become part of the family of God, united with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

 

Baptism is a sign and seal of entering the community of Christ, the community bought with Jesus' blood and given life by his Holy Spirit. In baptism we are grafted into a family—the church, the body of Christ, “the communion of saints.” We have a whole body around and about us, our brothers and sisters, the baptized. They belong to us as we to them. They are called to witness to the promise that we are one with each other even when life divides. As followers of Jesus, we are to reach out and nurture each other in love and faith which leads to eternal life with God.

And that’s where we, as the congregation of fellow believers, come in. Yes, certainly we’re witnesses to the baptism, but it’s much more than that. Living Faith tells us, “Congregations and those baptised must strive to nurture life in Christ”. It’s a life-long commitment and a life-long journey that we’re on together. Baptism is the first step in the process of educating and nurturing a child as a disciple of Jesus Christ, something which involves all of us.

This is a quote from American pastor, Douglas Wilson, “In today’s society we’d rather be marbles than branches. If we picture Jesus as being a marble box where individual marbles are placed one by one for safekeeping, then no marble is connected to any other marble, each is on its own. But has Jesus ever said, "I am the box; you are the marbles"? No, Jesus says, ‘I am the vine; you are the branches’ (John 15:5). If a branch is connected to the vine, so are any twigs that are connected to the branch.” Thus, our baptism makes the connection between all of us. We are the branches connected to the vine that lasts for a lifetime.

So, in closing, this is what we are to always remember. God uses baptism to strengthen faith and increase our love for him. Baptism is the sign of sins forgiven and union with Christ. It falls on all of us to do all in our power to instruct children in the Christian faith and to lead them by our example to be Christ's disciples. Baptism is the beginning of our journey of faith, but it is also a seal of joy and confidence of being part of the family of God.

Let us Pray:

Faithful and loving Father, look upon Caleb with grace and mercy. Bless Tim and Danielle and everyone who will care for this child throughout his life. Give them the gift of love, wisdom, and faith. Fill them with your Holy Spirit and shine the light of your presence upon them, that they may follow your path. May the peace of God reign in their lives, the love of God surround them, the Spirit of God empower them and the joy of God uphold them. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, we pray. Amen.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.