Baptism is a public sign of joining Jesus’ church. In baptism adults show that they are turning away from sins and placing their trust in Jesus with the symbolic act of washing. In the case of children’s baptism parents ask God to give their child the spiritual gifts of faith and repentance and a desire to follow Jesus through their life.
John ‘The Baptist’ is the first recorded baptiser in the bible, but over the past 2000 years up to the present day the Christian Church continues to baptise men, women and children because of Jesus’ words;
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Within the Anglican Church (of which NewLife is a member) baptism is a service of commitment and prayer. It is a response to God’s saving love shown in the death of Jesus Christ. Because of the nature of the promises made and the centrality of being joined to a local gathering of believers the baptism takes place at one of our normal Sunday services.
Baptism is for men and women who are trusting in Jesus, who have turned from their sins, and are seeking to live a new life in Him. In the service an adult is asked to renounce the devil and all his works, to affirm that they believe the Apostle’s creed, and intend to keep God’s holy will and commandments with His help. It is worth recognising that these are very serious commitments that should not be taken lightly. However in the mouth of the serious follower of Jesus they are a wonderful occasion for celebration by the individual and the congregation of God’s love and promises.
It is also worth noting that baptism is only offered to those who have not previously been baptised as we recognise, “one baptism for the forgiveness of sins,” where that baptism was carried out in, “the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
The Australian Prayer Book helpfully explains the special place of children in the life of the Church and the role that baptism plays:
“Children are baptised on the understanding that they will be brought up as faithful members of the Church, to follow Christ and to fight against evil; and that they will be brought to the bishop to be confirmed by him, when they are of age to take upon themselves the promises you are about to make on their behalf.
As they grow they need encouragement, teaching and the help of a good example, so that they may learn to worship God, to pray to him, to put their faith and trust in him, and to take their place in the life of the Church.
Parents and godparents, this child depends chiefly on you for the help and encouragement they need. Are you willing to give them this help and encouragement (to sincerely follow the Lord Jesus) by every means in your power?”
The role of parents and godparents is a serious one and that the intention to bring the children baptised up in the life of the Church is paramount. Should this not be your intention we ask that you consider our Thanksgiving Service (see below).
At NewLife children’s baptism is the first step in what we hope will be a two stage process. The first is the baptismal service where promises are made by parents and godparents on the child’s behalf. The second is a confirmation service which would take place somewhere in late primary or high school at which children and teens are able to affirm for themselves the promises that have been made on their behalf.
The word ‘baptism’ or to ‘baptise’ means broadly to wash or purify and can be practiced as full immersion in water (in the case of adults) or sprinkling (in the case of children). In both cases the water is no more ‘holy’ than any other supplied by Sydney Water! It is simply used in our service for the purpose of symbolizing the washing that Jesus alone is able to do in the removing of our sins.
To put it bluntly, baptism isn’t a ‘ticket to heaven’. Baptism is an outward sign of an inward commitment. But where there is no commitment it is simply another religious ritual unable to effect any change in our spiritual state before our Creator. In the bible, the Prophet Isaiah recorded God’s own reflection on the false attitudes of the religious people of his time. “These people honour me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.” (Isaiah 29:13) Baptism is a wonderful expression of Christian faith where there is wonderful Christian faith. Without that, it offers nothing.
Godparents are not specifically mentioned in the Bible, but the practice of choosing helpers to assist the parents in bringing children up to follow Jesus seems like a helpful one that we are happy to encourage – after all it’s a big job!
Parents and Godparents publicly declare that they are committed followers of Jesus Christ. They make promises which indicate that they believe that Christ is their Lord and Saviour, that they will live the way the Bible says and that they belong to the church as full, active members, who regularly attend and participate in the life of the Christian community.
We’d be delighted to meet with you and talk that through. Your first step would be to come along to one of our regular Sunday services so you can begin to meet and connect with the Christian gathering you’d be joining in baptism. Please come and see either Stuart or Geoff after the service.
We’d be delighted to meet with you and talk that through. Your first step would be to come along to one of our regular Sunday services so you can begin to meet and connect with the Christian gathering you’d be joining in the baptism of your child. Please come and see either Stuart, Michael or Geoff after the service.
In this case we’re thankful that we’ve presented what baptism is seriously and we would like to offer you another form of service we call a Thanksgiving Service. This is a friendly service designed for those who want to thank God for the birth of their child. It takes place in one of our normal Sunday Services or can be held at another time or even in your home.
This Thanksgiving Service introduces you to our church and allows us to meet you, your family and friends and also to pray for them. The promises you make are more general than in the baptism service and are about your desire to have God watch over and bless your child. If you want to you can move to baptism at a later date. You can still have godparents; people who will encourage you as parents, pray for your child and model a Christian lifestyle. Just as in baptism they make the same promises as you in the Thanksgiving Service.
You may still be investigating Christianity, or not feel you can commit yourself to the particular promises in the baptism service. Honesty and integrity are important in raising your child and in your dealings with God.
Because we take Baptism seriously we want to help you prepare for the event by meeting with you after one of our services to arrange either a visit to your home or the rectory.
The preparation helps you to understand in more detail what Jesus taught about baptism and what the baptismal promises really mean. Many people have gone through this process and found it enjoyable, stimulating and helpful. There are plenty of opportunities for questions and discussion.
Alternatively if you don’t live in the Camden region, our understanding is that we are baptising your child on behalf of your local church. Because of this we ask that you make contact with your local Anglican church and prepare for the baptism with one of the ministers there. You can find a guide to where your closest local church might be via this site.
This way you can also meet the ministers and the other members of the church you may later be turning to for Sunday School or other areas of life.
Since baptism is a such a personal and relational activity we’d prefer not to discuss any dates prior to meeting with you. Whilst we appreciate your desire to get things organised we hope you can recognise that the pressure of a ticking clock can compromise our motives. We’d love you to arrive at the baptism or thanksgiving service relaxed, informed and expectantly looking forward to commitments you’ve made freely and confidently over the proceeding time.
We look forward to meeting you in person and thank you for taking the time to read through – we hope it helps you make an informed decision.