Baptism is God’s promise to us
Holy Baptism is the sacrament by which God adopts us as his children and makes us members of Christ’s body, the Church, and inheritors of the kingdom of God (The Book of Common Prayer, 858). The sacrament marks the beginning of a new life in which we are promised a new relationship with God – opening us to new possibility and hope through Jesus Christ.
Our promise to God and one another
At baptism, the person to be baptized vows to accept Jesus Christ as savior, to trust in his grace and love, and to follow and obey him as Lord (BCP 302-303). In the case of infants and younger children unable to answer for themselves, these vows are made by their parents and godparents who promise to raise the child in the Christian faith and support him or her in a Christian life through their prayers and by example.
The Background of Holy Baptism
In the sacrament of baptism, we recall the early rituals of the Jewish faith. Baptism has its origins in the purity rituals of our Jewish forbearers. Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. The three Gospel accounts of Jesus’ baptism by John are integral to our understanding of baptism (See Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22). All of these scripture passages include both the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus and the voice of God saying, “You are my son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Baptism, then, marks the beginning of a new and more abundant life begun as we turn from that which keeps us separated from God and accept our true identity as beloved children of God. In continuity with the purity rituals and early baptisms, water serves as a symbol of cleansing and new birth. Baptism means all this and more because of the coming of Jesus, the Christ. John the Baptist said to his followers, “I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the gift of the Holy Spirit.” This gift of the Holy Spirit means that all that we vow to do in baptism is done with God’s help. The Holy Spirit empowers us to live this new life promised in Baptism.