Saturday, January 10, 2009

What does baptism mean?

What does Baptism mean?
The word: Greek (BAPTIZO): ‘immersing’…“cleansing”. It has to do with WATER!

The act: It is the way to become a full member of the Church (–we baptize people of any age in the Episcopal Church –from babies to very old people)
“full member” let’s be clear – this is a not a club Sarah is joining
It is entry into a CHANGE. Baptism marks the beginning of this change…
A CHANGE by which she will become aware of the LOVE of God more and more….
The love that, by God’s Grace,
Will change her forever.

It is a moment that we mark because it is a defining moment, a moment that means we are changed forever…and we are forever going to be changing,
changing, as God comes into us more and more.
It is a process..
a “process in Christ.”

This is not magic, but it is a Mystery, one that marks this moment of change.
Baptism: Mystery of Change.

It is the moment when we acknowledge a change that is forever.
“You are marked as Christ’s own forever.”

What does ‘covenant’ mean?
Promise –one between the person being Baptized and God –one that God never breaks, the promise that we live into, moment by moment, through God’s grace – the promise that we are loved –love that is not earned, that is unconditional, that is forever.

What does ‘anointed’ mean?
It means “Christ.” (from the Greek KHRISTOS)
Anointed has to do with blessing, protection, and empowerment. We anoint with oil.

We will ask some questions of Sarah tonight –
About renouncing evil and sin, turning to Christ.
John Westerhoff, an Episcopal priest, says this about sin:
“Sin is not actions we engage in which are against God’s law. Sin is the disposition to act in ways that negatively affect the relationships God intends for us to have with God, ourselves, other persons, and creation. Sin is not so much concerned with what is right or wrong as it is with what kind of person we are becoming.”
A process of change.

Let’s enter into the STORY of baptism…
And, then, into Sarah’s baptism.

We baptize people in the name of the
And of the Son,
And of the Holy Spirit.


Pouring the water into the font:
THIS is the water of creation,
The water that the people of God went through to freedom in the Exodus,
The water that Jesus was baptized in,
That YOU were baptized in…
Or will be.

Once, there was someone who said such amazing things,
And who did such wonderful things,
That people followed him
They wanted to be close to him, and once
When they asked him who he was,
He said,
“I am the light.”
Lighting the Paschal candle

The Holy Spirit goes where it will,
It rides the invisible wind like a dove,
Or like the smoke of this incense.
Like the smell of the incense, it is invisible…
You know it is there, but you can’t see it.

And now, we are ready…


(The above draws on material from Holy Baptism: A Guide for Parents and Godparents by The Rev. Dr. John. H. Westerhoff
and Godly Play Guide 3 by Jerome W. Berryman)