Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Guidance for Baptism

Because my church is hosting its first baptism since I assumed the pastorate I thought it helpful to write this short instructional for our new converts.  We are of the Anabaptist/credobaptist/Believer's Baptism tradition:

Congratulations! You have repented of your sins and found forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Baptism is a public confession of your decision to become a follower of King Jesus. Baptism is a symbol of what happened when God “washed away” your sins through the blood (sacrifice) of Jesus. Also, it is a symbolic enactment of you being crucified with Jesus on his cross, buried with him in his tomb and being raised to new life with him in his resurrection. Baptism is a rite that we say is, “an outward sign of an inner faith.”

First, on the day of your baptism wear dark and heavy clothing. Pastor Larry will be wearing a blue-jean shirt and jeans under his Geneva robe that morning! Water causes clothes to cling to the body and become translucent so we wear dark clothing to prevent anything embarrassing from happening. :-)

Second, bring a towel, change of clothes and anything you will need after your baptism. We here at First Church baptize by immersion—we dunk you totally under water—which we believe is the normal/regular mode of baptism in the New Testament.

Third, when Pastor prompts you come in the water slowly. This allows the water to seep into your clothing. Also, while our baptistery is heated the water will get cooler the deeper you go. This is normal.

Fourth, Pastor Larry will makes some remarks. He will then ask you two questions, taken directly from the Bible:
...if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom 10:9 ESV)

Pastor Larry will ask you:
  1. Do you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord?
  2. Do you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead?

You will answer “Yes,” to each of these two questions.

You are not “getting saved” in that moment. You already are saved. This is just an opportunity to witness to the crowd that you are publicly proclaiming yourself a Christian.

Fifth, after a short prayer Pastor Larry will say something like, “And we baptize this our sister/brother in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Sixth, relax and pinch your nose closed. You are in safe hands; let Pastor Larry and his helper hold you as they lean you back into the water, submerge you briefly, then pull you from the water. They will do all the work.

Seventh, walk carefully up the stairs. Someone will be there to help you get to where you need to be to change.

Finally, enjoy yourself! This is a great day of celebration for you and the whole church!