Monday, April 14, 2008

We're having a boatload of baptisms!

This coming weekend, April 19 and 20, we are having a boatload of baptisms!

Saturday night, we will baptize Gabriella during our monthly Spanish-language service!

Then on Sunday, when Bishop Paul visits, we will baptize Kameko, Danielle, Kristopher, Kierstan, and Logan.

We are initiating six people into full membership in the Body of Christ!

There are special days we like to baptize people: The Sunday after the Epiphany (Jan 6): The Baptism of Our Lord (see more below); The Great Vigil of Easter; Pentecost Sunday; The Sunday after All Saints and whenever the Bishop is present for a visitation. It is a very special thing when the Bishop takes part in Christian initiation! That is what will happen this Sunday!

Here is a summary of what baptism is, as described by Father Matthew at Christ Church, Rye, NY.

At Trinity, Easton some other things will happen that are not shown in the video--every parish does things in their own way, even though the basic action of the liturgy is the same!

During the Baptism, we ask everyone to promise to do everything in their power to uphold the candidates in their life in Christ. And we all say "We will!" in big loud voices. At Trinity, we put our promise in writing. Everyone who is baptized here gets a really, really big baptismal certificate that everyone Not just the priest (or in this Sunday's case, the Bishop) signs, and not just the parents and godparents either. Everyone in the congregation! Everyone who came from out of town to be with their friends when their children were baptized signs. And, most important, every member of Trinity who is present signs too!

These certificates look great and are a great reminder of a great truth! I have seen these certificates, covered with signatures, hanging in children's bedrooms, a tangible sign that they are now a part of a community, a branch on the vine of Christ, and a member of the Body of Christ.

Something else happens. They receive a candle that is lit from the paschal candle which reminds us that the newly baptized shares in the light of Christ and that they are Christ's light in the world, and that the Holy Spirit animates and lights their heart, mind and spirit. We suggest that every April 19 or 20th, the family lights their baptismal candle and say some prayers--at dinner time around the table is good--giving thanks for the child and reminding them of this important day!

But wait! There's more! Each candidate puts on a new garment, as a sign that they have put off the old life of sin and put on immortality, renewal, and abundant life in Jesus Christ. In the ancient church, candidates literally took off old clothes and put on new white garments as a sign of their new identity in Jesus Christ. We symbolize and model that with these new, white garments.

This Sunday, because Bishop Paul will be present, we will be put in mind that baptism is an action not just of individuals but of the whole church! Bishop Paul will anoint each of the newly baptized with Chrism, making clear that each of these new members of the body of the Church will sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ's own forever.

Finally, each child will receive Communion as a sign of their full membership in the Christ's body, the Church.

Then, we'll go the parish hall and have cake! Wow! What could be better? A fitting celebration for a glorious day!

Oh, yeah...every January, on the Sunday after Epiphany (that's January 6th) we do a "reunion of baptismal vows" where we invite those who have been baptized at Trinity in the past year, and five, ten and fifteen years ago to come back to their "home" church with, if possible, their parents and godparents, to renew their baptismal promises with the rest of the congregation.

Baptism is a big deal to us in the Episcopal Church because it is how we are adopted into Christ's family and given the grace to be Jesus' friends and apprentices!

Come this Sunday and join in the excitement of watching six people enter into new life in Jesus Christ at Trinity! As Fr. Matthew says...come on in, the water's fine!

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