The Sacrament of Holy Baptism
Children are baptised on the profession of faith by those who have the care and responsibility for them. Parents and godparents promise to bring their children up in the practices of the church’s life. This promise is readily kept by bringing children to church so that that experience belonging and through worship, the wonder of God’s presence in our world. The baptism service paints many vivid pictures of what happens on the Christian way. There is the sign of the cross, the badge of faith on the Christian journey, which reminds us of Christ’s death. Our ‘drowning’ in the water of baptism, where we believe we die to sin and are raised to new life, unites us to Christ’s dying and rising. Water is also a sign of new life, as we are born again by water and the Spirit. This reminds us of Jesus’ baptism. And as a sign of that new life the lighted candle is a picture of the light of Christ conquering the darkness of evil. Everyone who is baptised may choose to walk in that light for the rest of their lives.
The Signs and Symbols of Baptism
The word baptise comes from the Greek and is associated with the dipping into or pouring over of water as an act of cleansing. In baptism, water is used to symbolize the purifying change that comes with forgiveness and the promise of support and nourishment in a new life as members of the faith community of the Risen Christ.
The water is blessed to signify the sacred nature of its pouring onto the head of the baptised in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The sign of the Cross
A sign on something shows its origin or ownership. The sign of the cross is the mark of Christians for Jesus who died on the cross. It is traced with the thumb on the forehead to show that the baptised belongs to Christ and His Church.
Oil of Baptism is also known as Oil of Chrism. It is a mixture of oil and balsam and has been blessed by the bishop. It is used to signify the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In his letter to the Galatians, Saint Paul indicates that the Spirit brings love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control (Galatians 5:22).
Candles symbolize Christ the Light of the World. In baptism a candle is lit from the Paschal or Easter Candle (which stands near the altar at Easter as a sign of the Risen Christ) and is given as a reminder that the Light of Christ has entered the life of the newly baptised. Its flame symbolizes the faith which will burn through the life of the baptised.
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