Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are sacraments, sacred signs revealing God’s promises and presence, ordained by Jesus Christ. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, in baptism we are a) united with Jesus, b) assured that God embraces us, forgives us, and holds us through life and death, c) made members of his living body the Church, and d) called to grow in Christian life. Baptism is a gift from God. It is not something we earn or deserve, but is all about God, and in particular God’s prior, present and continuing love for us known in Jesus Christ. The mystery of faith is that God loves us long before we recognise or seek God, and also that God never gives up on us, always welcoming us back, raising us up again, and offering us new opportunities for life.
‘Baptism assures us that we belong to God. In life and in death our greatest comfort is that we belong to our faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.’
Living Faith 7.6.5.
God offers us assurance in baptism, and we respond with commitment. All our lives we are challenged to live in the strength of our baptism, sharing the love that we receive and know in Jesus Christ. Baptism does not protect us from the trials or tragedies of human life, but baptism does declare that God accompanies us at all times and is at work to bring all things together for good and does challenge us to live with strength and courage in human society for the good of neighbour and the glory of God.
Q: How is baptism conducted?
A: As a sacrament, baptism takes place as part of the congregation’s normal Sunday service of worship. The specific Sunday is designated after discussions with the minister and approval by the elders.
Q: We would like to have our child baptized, must we be members?
A: The act of baptism marks but the beginning of life within the Church, and so it is necessary that at least the child be brought forward for baptism by at least one adult who is a professing member of the congregation. The adult is usually a parent, but could also be for example a grandparent, someone who plays a significant role in the child’s life and will be able to bring the child regularly to worship and grow the child within the Christian community and into the Christian life and faith.
Q: At what age should a baby be baptized?
A: Both adult and infant baptism are practiced within the Presbyterian Church in Canada. In other words, any time is a good and right time.
Q: I was never baptized as a child. What do I have to do to be baptized as an adult?
A: If you feel drawn to profess your faith in God and become a member of the Church of Christ, you will be invited to join a membership or study group to become acquainted with the basic contours of the Christian faith, and baptism will be part of your being received as a full member of the Church. Please speak to the Minister for a conversation and some further details.
Q: How does the act of baptism look?
A: During a regular Sunday morning service, the Minister introduces the background and benefits of the sacrament. The individual (or the child’s parents) are asked appointed questions, clarifying their trust in God and determination to lead a Christian life and grow within the Church of Christ. The minister prays that God might accompany the water with Holy Spirit, assuring and effecting a forgiveness of sin and a newness of life.
After the water has been poured, the baptism is celebrated ‘in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’ – one is baptized into Christ, not into a particular denomination or congregation of his Church. The congregation together sings over the one baptized the ancient blessing given to Aaron to give to God’s people (Numbers 6:24-26),
‘The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.’
The minister declares the one baptized to be a child of God and disciple of Jesus Christ.