Anyway, because of my frustrations, I have rewritten the baptism liturgy. It's not super simple, but it seems clearer and less cumbersome....it worked for my church anyway....we got to baptize 4 kids on Sunday!!
Baptism is a time when we acknowledge the redemptive work God does in our lives. It is a symbolic act for the cleansing and purifying work God is doing within us. In Methodist terms, it is an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace. In other words, God acts invisibly within us offering forgiveness, new life, and salvation and we use baptism to mark that work.
For infants and children, at the time of baptism, parents confess their faith and make a covenant with God to help their children grow in Christian discipleship. Today, we will be welcoming four children into the body of Christ and the Wesley family. To each of the parents, I ask:
· Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil power of this world, and repent of your sin?
· Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?
· Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord in union with the church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races?
· Will you nurture these children in Christ’s holy church, that by your teaching and example they may be guided to accept God’s grace for themselves, to profess their faith openly, and to lead a Christian life?
Each of you are here today because you are a part of the community of faith. As Christians, we participate in community. We are connected to one another. And even though we baptize an individual, we don’t do it in isolation because each of us needs help, support, encouragement, and accountability in our faith walk and that comes from our Christian brothers and sisters. Today, these parents confessed their faith and their commitment to their children and each of us will commit to share our faith with them and their children.
So, to all of you, I ask:
· Will you be faithful to Christ and to the Holy Scriptures in study and in practice?
· Will you live the greatest commandment: to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and your neighbor as yourself?
· Will you humbly give to others sharing the blessings you have received?
· Will you uplift one another in faith and in love?
· Will you nurture, care for, and teach these children in the ways of Christian discipleship?
Water is a powerful symbol. It represents purification and being clean. It is with water we wash our hands and bodies, washing away any impurities. And symbolically at baptism, water purifies our souls—it represents the way God washes us of all impurities.
Water also offers life. It is composes 80% of our bodies and without it, we die. It also surrounds us in the womb, protecting us and nurturing us as we grow. Water represents both new life and our life source. The water in baptism also represents the new life God gives us spiritually, and the source of our continued life in Christ.
Water has been powerful throughout the ages. When nothing existed but chaos, God swept across the dark waters and brought forth light. In the days of Noah, God saved those on the ark through water. When God set the Israelites free from Egypt, it was water which protected them from Pharaoh’s army. It was in water of the Jordan River that Jesus was baptized. And it is today, with water, that we baptize these beloved children.
Precious God, pour out your Holy Spirit and by this gift of water and use it to wash these children and make them new in Christ Jesus. For you have washed away our sins, and you clothe us with righteousness throughout our lives, that dying and rising with Christ we may share in his final victory.
What name is given to this child?
[NAME] I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
And now I anoint you with the sign of the cross. May all who see you see the light and love of Jesus Christ in all that you do and may the cross be an eternal reminder that you are a child of God.