Baptism: the ceremony
the second sacrament accepted by Christians, is a ceremony where a child or
adult is removed of all sins to begin a new life with God.
The New Testament teaches that baptism is a sort of death and
resurrection. It is believed that it marks the end of an old way of life, and
the start of a new life, which is lived out in the company of other Christians.
The New Testament also says that the baptismal ceremony depicts how Jesus dies
and rose again. Baptism is the rite of initiation by which people enter the
church, and this belief is symbolized by the fact that the font (the stand which
contains the water for baptism) is usually located at the door of the church.
Christians see baptism as an act of renunciation. The parents of the child, or
the baptized adult, are asked if they repent of their sins and renounce all
evil. It is also seen marking the beginning of a new life with God and a form of
spiritual cleaning. The water which is used in the baptism ceremony is a symbol
for spiritual cleanliness as well as the removal of sin from human life by the
death and resurrection of Jesus.
Baptists use rivers or seas for baptism, but usually it takes place in a church.
Most Baptist churches have a baptistery, a sort of pool, built into the floor.
The applicant approaches the minister a few weeks before and requests baptism.
During this time, the minister questions the applicant to confirm their personal
commitment to Jesus Christ as well as makes sure that they have some
understanding of what it means to follow him. On the day of the baptism, if the
candidate is a girl they come dressed in a white baptismal gown and if it is a
boy, they are dressed in a shirt and flannels. Hymns, prayers, readings and a
sermon are performed and then the Minister puts on his special boots. The
candidate stands in the baptistery and gives a statement about how they came to
have faith in Christ and then the Minister says their name, then plunging them
into the water, baptizing them “into the name of the Father, the Son and the
Holy Spirit.” Hymns of faith are sung, as the candidate leaves for the
dressing room. This baptismal service is then usually followed by a short
celebration of Holy Communion.
Christians practice infant baptism, but some believe that it is worthless
because the child is too young to appreciate what is going on in the ceremony.
There is also the fact that some parents have no intention of bringing up their
children in the Christian Church.