The Grace of Baptism
This past weekend, Mel and I attended the baptism service of Zoey Gerber. She is the daughter of two of our closest friends, Jaco and Lisa. It was an incredibly special service that we were honoured to be a part of.
Baptism is one of two sacraments that are officially recognized by most mainline churches (the other being Holy Communion). A sacrament can be defined as an outward, visible sign of an inward, invisible grace. In less academic terms, it means that through the sacraments, we are able to experience the grace of God in tangible ways.
The sacrament of baptism represents two of God's graces to us.
First, it is a sign of being welcomed into the Christian Church family. This welcoming into God's family is symbolised by the community of believers that are present to witness a baptism service. In most churches, the congregation are invited to make promises to nurture and care for the newly baptised person. It is a visible reminder of the loving and welcoming spirit that all of God's people should display for the entirety of humankind.
Second, it signifies the purification and regeneration of our spirits that we experience when we live a life in relationship with Christ. This cleansing of our spirit is symbolised in the act of being submerged in (or sprinkled with) water. It is a visible reminder that God forgives and offers new life.
While a person can only be baptised once, they are reminded of God's grace every time that they bear witness to another person's baptism. At Zoey's baptism on Sunday, I was reminded of my own baptism. I was reminded of the larger family that I am a part of. I was reminded that Christ continues to purify and regenerate my spirit. I was reminded of the grace of baptism.
'Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”'
- Acts 2:38-39