Grace Episcopal Church
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Holy Baptism is the full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ's Body the Church. The bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble. (BCP 1979)
Baptism is the sacrament by which one is initiated into the Christian faith. The sacrament thus has the effect of receiving the individual into the household of God, allowing him to receive the grace of the other sacraments. The matter consists of the water (and chrism, if used) and the form are the words of Baptism (the Trinitarian formula). The intention of baptism is threefold: a renunciation of sin and of all that which is opposed to the will of God (articulated by vows); a statement of belief in God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (articulated by the recitation of the Apostles' Creed or Nicene Creed); and a commitment to follow Christ as Lord and Saviour (again, signified by vows). The effect of baptism is the reception of the Holy Spirit.
The well-known 20th century Anglican C.S. Lewis aptly described the world we live in---he said, “The world as we know it is bent.” Lewis meant that we live less virtuously than God would like us to, by our own doing. This is the recipe for understanding the nature of sin. It is this respective condition that Jesus as Christ freed us from. As the incarnate God---perfectly divine, perfectly human---Christ became the redeeming epiphany of humanity and his Creation. Into this mix the clergy of Grace Church invite all into a new format for baptismal preparation and formation.
Hence, sacrament of holy baptism is not an individual experience of God’s grace---that somehow particularly in the circumstance of an infant or child that they will be immediately released of sin. For what does an infant or child know of sin? Rather, sin is a predicament of our having been saved, that we are being saved, and that we will be saved. The Divine action of baptism makes us full members of Christ’s body---the Church and inheritors of the kingdom of God. As we gather around a font or even a larger body of water we are recognizing how we are bound together by a common God, a common Savior and finally by a common faith.
Admittedly the above tautology is can be a hard nut to swallow. Though, the theological premise of God’s sacrificial notion in Christ is where the doctrine of the atonement comes from. Literally, we are at-one-moment in the hollow of God’s hand. Because of God’s empowering grace, baptism points us back to the work of God and forward to a life of faith. In the arc of understanding the atonement we are proclaiming we no longer belong solely to our parents, extended family or friends. Rather, we belong to God---we are at-one-with him.
God works his purposes through the Risen Christ, his body the Church. We are the hands, ears, eyes and hearts of this living Christ. We proclaim outwardly through baptism to a “bent” world that there is another way.
Process for Baptism at Grace Church