SAINT CHARLES CHRISTIAN CHURCH
Friday, July 20, 2018
(Disciples of Christ)

Baptism

 
Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."                                Acts 2:38 (NRSV)
 
     "Through baptism into Christ, we enter into newness of life and are made one with the whole people of God." When one is ready to be baptized into Christ and one enters into the universal church, called the Body of Christ, in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) the church conducts the rite of baptism by completely immersing your body in water. As we understand the Bible, all the very first Christians became members of the church by this ritual of washing. In the intervening centuries other forms of the ritual seemed prudent and theologically consistent with this practice so we acknowledge and cherish all those other forms. But our practice is as close as we can discern to have been the practice of that early church. For those of us who were baptized by the church in this manner we can personally recall that moment, so, it is not hard to let it be the foundation for our knowing that we are Christian. For those who were brought for baptism as a child by faithful parents, we can recall that ritual of baptism only in the stories we hear about that event, so it becomes important, for our baptism to be that personal, that it is reaffirmed by each person once they are of an age to understand and accept its power in our lives.
 
From the "Word to the Church on Baptism," Commission on Theology, 1987
     Just as the baptism represents the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it symbolizes the death and burial of the old self of the repentant believer, and the joyous birth of a brand new being in Christ. Those who founded the Disciples movement taught baptism by immersion as the accepted form.  Baptism, as a gift of grace, received by faith, expresses its meaning in a variety of images:  a new birth; a washing with water; a cleansing from sin; a sign of God’s forgiving grace; the power of new life now and the pledge of life in the age to come.
      The meaning of baptism is grounded in God’s redemptive action in Christ, it incorporates the believer in the community in the body of Christ, and it anticipates life in the coming age when the powers of the old world will be overcome, and the purposes of God will triumph.
      Baptism then, is not only the act of the church to signify God’s salvation, it is also the act of the person, who believes and commits themselves to be followers of Jesus the Christ. We believe that God is also active in this action or ritual. We believe that God comes closer to us when we have been baptized and that God’s presence (which we call the Holy Spirit) will accompany us for all life--even through death to our resurrection.
      There is a special sense in which this action also is a challenge to begin to act according to God’s will for our lives in ways we may not have been able to act before. Baptism can be the pledge we make to be courageous about loving God, loving our neighbor as we love ourselves and even to act in loving ways towards our enemies.
      In renewing our baptismal vows we affirm, once again, that we are Christian, that we know God wants us to act for his justice and righteousness and that we will oppose evil in all its forms.