Baptism is the Christian ritual of initiation. As it was originally practiced, new Christians were immersed in the waters of a river.
The symbolism at work in this ritual is twofold. Going under the water symbolizes the death of our old selves, our inward-looking, grudge-holding, power-seeking, injustice-loving selves. Rising out of the water symbolizes the birth of our new selves into the way of Jesus, a path of marked by humility, mercy, and self-giving love.
Through this sacrament we are brought into union with Christ, with each other, and with the church of every time and place.
Hillside baptizes people of all ages – infants, children, and adults.
It’s important to note that baptism is a one-time thing. If you’ve been baptized before, you don’t need it done again. This is true even if you change churches or denominations. As Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesians: There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism.
In our particular flavor of Christianity, baptism is believed to be a gift from the congregation to the person being baptized. Practically, what that the means is that baptisms take place during our worship services so that our community can vow their love, prayer, and support to the person being baptized.
Most times, baptisms happen in our sanctuary by sprinkling water from a font over a person’s head. However, with advanced planning, we are able to offer full immersion baptism during the summer months at one of our outdoor worship services at Shannon Beach.
Baptism isn’t for those who believe they have all the answers. Baptism is for those who simply have a desire to know and love God, and for those who want to raise their children in the way of Jesus. It’s the first step of a journey, not the last.
At a base level, you should be able to see your own spiritual journey reflected in the affirmation of faith that is included in every baptism service:
We believe in God, maker of all things, provider of all things, who loves all people.
We follow Jesus, in whom salvation has come to us: he sees us for who we are, heals the wounds of our hearts, and makes us new. In his death and resurrection we find the deepest truth of life.
We live by the power of the Holy Spirit, which enables us to give ourselves in love.
We give thanks for the Church, for the gift of forgiveness, for the power of resurrection, and for the mystery of eternal life. Amen.