SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM
Churches have many different traditions about baptism, but all Christians know it’s important. The Bible certainly says so. The story of Jesus’ baptism is in all four gospels. In Matthew, Jesus ends his ministry with the great commission to baptize people of all nations.
In the third chapter of John, Jesus talks with a church leader about baptism and salvation. Jesus says just as we cannot give birth to ourselves, we cannot save ourselves (verse 5) — it is God’s work of love that saves people. God began this work in the Garden of Eden; perfected this work in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; and continues this work today through the Holy Spirit baptism.
BAPTISM IS GOD’S GIFT TO US
Baptism is the official and sacred celebration of the fact that God chooses us. Through the Sacrament of Baptism we are initiated into Christ’s Holy Church. We are incorporated into God’s mighty acts of salvation and given new birth through water and the Spirit. All this is God’s gift, offered to us without price.
God chooses every person; He has made all of us in His image (Genesis 1:26-27) and wants each of us to be close to Him. The ultimate proof of this is the life, death and resurrection of His son, Jesus Christ. Baptism is the official celebration of the fact that God has chosen us; it is the ceremony of God’s grace. Since there is nothing we do to deserve God’s grace and there is nothing we do to earn our baptism, people of all ages can be baptized. Our culture will try to define who we are in so many ways: by what we do, or what we have, what we can buy, or what we produce. Baptism defines who we are based on God’s love; you can accept His love or reject it, but you can’t alter it.
At some point in every person’s life, we reach the time when we are ready to respond to God’s love by choosing to believe in Him. The official celebration of that is confirmation—the professing of our faith. Since confirmation is the ceremony in which we respond to God, it must take place when we are able to understand God’s free gift of love and are ready to decide whether or not we will accept that gift and follow Him. Therefore, confirmation usually takes place in sixth grade or beyond. In simple terms, baptism is a matter of who loves us, and confirmation is a matter of who we love.
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If you have additional information on baptism or schedule a baptism, please contact Alison McCall.