Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Sacrament of Baptism

Though we received a boatload of snow going into the weekend, we had a full house today. Pastor Brad welcomed us enthusiastically. “I’m grateful you’re here this morning.”

Here are some of the announcements to be aware of.
~ Next Sunday is our Semi-Annual Congregational Meeting after the service.
~ The Church Council will meet this Wednesday after Kids Club
~ Confirmation Sunday is slated for May 12
~ Capital campaign launch date: May 19
~ Family Night is every Wednesday from 6 – 7:30, and includes meal.
~ If you would like to receive the monthly church newsletter, send an email to Carol Sertich at
~ There's a Church Rummage Sale this coming Friday and Saturday, April 19 & 20
~ The Building Committee will meet April 23
~ There is a Women’s Bible Study on Tuesday mornings from 10–11:30 a.m.
~ And there was a VBS announcement from Brooke. Anyone able to assist can contact Brooke as the time is at hand. Despite the foot of new snow out there, summer is just around the corner.

Walt Cresman provided an update on the building committee progress. More details will be forthcoming at our semi-annual meeting.

There was an especially soothing spirit-breeze flowing through the sanctuary during our worship time after which our senior high and college students class shared some of what they have been learning this past year in Sunday school. The theme for 2012-13 has been “sticky faith.” What kind of faith have they grabbed hold of and will it stick once they are launched into adulthood. They have also been talking about where their identity comes from.

Pastor Shannon took the pulpit and delivered the message.

The Sacrament of Baptism 

Pastor Brad began by saying, "Let's spend a few minutes this morning talking about baptism." Inasmuch as we were having witnessing a baptism this morning, this topic was not only relevant but also gave an opportunity to answer questions as regards why we do many of the things we do as a church.

First, baptism is a sacrament. A sacrament involves something ordinary being transformed into something sacred and extraordinary. In communion the bread and wine are ordinary but take on a greater meaning. Likewise baptism, which uses water – in this case tap water from downstairs – for a higher purpose.

These sacraments, communion and baptism, were uniquely initiated by Jesus.

It's noteworthy that these were public acts that could put peoples’ jobs at risk, or even their lives, in certain periods of history.

Brad aimed to address four questions.
Why not to be baptized.
What is baptism? What is God doing in this act?
What are the various forms of baptism?
Why do people baptize children?

Why not to be baptized 
Or rather, what are some poor reasons for getting baptized? Sometimes parents bring their children to be baptized so their children will go to heaven. Brad notes this act is not something that will bring salvation. Faith in Christ is what saves us.

“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”(Galatians 2:19-21)

What is baptism? What is God doing in this act?
Brad used the illustration of the brand on a cow, how it indicates ownership. Baptism is a way of saying this person belongs to God. Just like the cowboy doll Woody, in Toy Story, had Andy’s name on his boot, baptism is a statement of ownership. The baptized one belongs to God.

In Acts 2:38 baptism is pressed upon us in this manner. "Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'"

It is not only a mark, but it’s a statement as the Apostle Peter wrote in his first letter.
...and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ...I Peter 3:21

What are the various forms of baptism? Is dunking more important than sprinkling?
The method is not as significant as the act itself. Sprinkling or dunking are matters of style, though dunking does convey a sense of death and resurrection. It is not necessary to be re-baptized when you are an adult. Many want to confirm their belief as an adult and it’s a wonderful thing, but some want to be baptized several times as if the previous time it didn’t take. The baptism does not save us, it is only a symbol. God alone saves us. As Paul states in his letter to the Ephesians, there is "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." (Eph. 4:5)

Why do people baptize infants?
Baptism is an act of giving our children to God. These children can sense God’s presence and activity in their lives before they can articulate it. The act also becomes a commitment on the part of the parents to walk alongside and support this faith.

The last matter Brad wanted to address was this: Can I make it into heaven if I have not been baptized? "I have something to say to that… Jesus is the one who presents baptism to us. It is a public statement that is a great moment, a public declaration of your faith." 

Whatever your stance on baptism and its forms, the bottom line for us is well-expressed in this wise maxim: “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity."

The baptism of Eliana Lynn Vanderscheuren followed the sermon as Jake and Leanne brought their new daughter forward to celebrate this moment with the congregation.

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