What is Baptism?
Baptism is the assurance of God’s forgiveness and love. We believe God accepts and loves us, for this reason he sent his Son, Jesus, to die for us. Jesus accepted baptism from John witnessing to God’s approval of the act.
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented.” (Matthew 3:13-15)
Jesus offers baptism to Christians as a sign of our relationship with him.
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:3-5)
Baptism is a sacrament. It is commanded by Jesus. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, . . .” (Matthew 28:19). It offers salvation, “we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” And it does this with an earthly sign, water.
Baptism is an act of God. Neither the words of the pastor nor the water that is poured on the person makes baptism a sacrament. God’s promise to use the water and the word makes significant that which by itself is only a sign.
Baptism is a powerful sign that nurtures faith. We believe that each day we are invited to remember our baptism. Like a marriage reminds a couple of their life long commitment to each other, our baptism is the assurance of our eternal relationship with Jesus.
Who is baptized?
Baptism is for everyone. It is a great gift for the walk of faith. When adults inquire about the Christian faith, having never been baptized, our sharing and teaching is designed to encourage them to accept what God wants to offer them. When an adult believes in God and accepts Christ as God’s self revelation of his love and purpose for all people, we rejoice to share the sacrament of Baptism as God’s covenant relationship with us.
Lutherans, like many other Christian denominations, baptize the children of Christians. Because we are convinced of the love of God, we baptize our children believing we have the incredible privilege of sharing this sign of God’s love with them. It allows us to witness to them that before they chose God, God chose them. As parents and sponsors of the child, we have the responsibility of witnessing and teaching our children about the meaning of their baptism, encouraging the time when they may affirm their baptism as adults. We call this public affirmation, confirmation.
At Upper Dublin Lutheran Church we are eager to share this gift of God with all who seek it. Families who come to us with no relationship to the church are welcomed and conversation with the pastor encourages understanding and commitment for the baptism of their children. Extenuating circumstances caused by our busy world are accepted as we seek to minister to families.
What does the church have to do with baptism?
Jesus is alive in the world through his church. Whatever the name of a particular congregation, it is part of the Body of Christ. The Apostle Paul instructs Christians, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27) It is as impossible to be baptized without being part of the church as it is to be married without a spouse. Therefore, when a person is baptized they become a Christian and a member of a congregation. The relationship is between Christ and the person, and Christ is known in his body, the church. At Upper Dublin we do more than place names on our role. We join the parents and godparents in the taking of the baptismal vows. We seek to provide support and nurturing along with a program of Christian Education, first communion preparation, catechism, and life long learning as the Holy Spirit makes us disciples.
When does baptism happen?
Baptism is a service of the church and occurs regularly during any of our Sunday morning worship. Parents may schedule a time with the pastor. Sometimes we can have more than one baptism at a particular service and find that particularly meaningful.
Adults are often baptized during the reception of new members where others are joining by reaffirmation of faith or transfer from another Christian congregation. Families joining with unbaptized children may choose to have their children baptized at this time. Where circumstances seem to necessitate it, baptism may occur at other times.