Window

St. Thomas

Episcopal Church

of Diamondhead

leftround
ctr

Statement on Baptism

Holy Baptism is the sacrament by which God adopts us as his children, and makes us members of Christ’s body.  It is the point of entry for membership in the Church, and prepares us to be inheritors of God’s eternal kingdom.

Through baptism we share Christ’s death and resurrection.  St. Paul says “we were buried with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4.

This means nothing less than the thought of being laid beside Christ in his tomb, and being one with him in his resurrection.

Baptism by water is the outward and visible sign of God’s inward and visible grace that actually transforms us at the time of baptism.  In baptism our hearts are cleansed of sin, and we are pardoned and sanctified by Christ as we are called into a new life according to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

The Baptismal Liturgy in the Book of Common Prayer provides that we are “sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever” (BCP 308).  It is as though we inwardly receive the Spirit at baptism as a glowing ember that remains within us all our lives.  That is one of the reasons why infant baptism has meaning.  

But that ember, to be truly effective in an outward way must be fanned into flames so that it acts upon us, and through us, and enables us to live our lives in truth and Spirit as we are called.  This activation of the Spirit can occur in an instant, but usually is a gradually unfolding process.  That is why we continue to study and grow in faith as older children and adults.

John Chrysostom, a fourth century saint of the church whose prayer is memorialized at page 102 of the Book of Common Prayer, described baptism in this way:

In worldly affairs, whenever someone wishes to entrust his business to anyone, a written contract must be completed.  The same things holds true now, when the Master is going to entrust you not with mortal things which are subject to destruction and death, but spiritual things which belong to eternity.  This contract is called faith.  However, it is not on paper nor written in ink; it is in God and written by the Spirit.  The words which you utter here are registered in heaven, and the agreement you make by your tongue resides indelibly with the Master.  The words are few but their power is great.  The angels who are standing by and the invisible powers rejoice at your conversion, receive the words from your tongues, and carry them up to the common Master of all things.  They are inscribed in the books of heaven.