John the Baptist, shown above wearing his camel-hair shirt, said about Jesus:
"I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ's Body the Church. The bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble.
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 298)
Baptism is a sacrament.
The Catechism of The Episcopal Church* defines sacraments as “outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means for receiving God's grace. . . Baptism and Eucharist are the two great sacraments given by Christ to his church."
(Book of Common Prayer, pp. 857-858)
Have you been baptized? If not, would you like to be? (Tell Fr John!)
If you have been, how old were you when you were baptized?
Why are babies baptized?
What difference might it make, to be baptized as an older person?
Did you know: when you were baptized, everyone agreed with a loud "We will!"
- as they promised to do all they can to support you in your life in Christ.
What does that mean, to support someone in their life in Christ?
Have you felt that kind of support from anyone?
And if you are present at someone's baptism, you are asked if you would like to make the same promise, to support that person.
What are some ways that you can help someone as they grow in Christ?
Here are 3 "ingredients" (outward & visible signs), used in a baptismal celebration:
Water, the Sign of the Cross, and Chrism.
They help us know how real is the grace and unconditional love of God - for us!
Water: the Celebrant thanks God for & blesses ordinary water for this special job.
What is important about water in our lives, for all life, for the Earth?
Where does water show up in the Bible? In the life of Jesus?
Why is water so important in a baptism?
Listen for the blessing of the water, in the baptismal service.
Listen for the sound of it, too, being poured into the font.
The Sign of the Cross: drawn on the forehead, by the Celebrant.
What are other times of the church year, or in a person's life, when the sign of the cross is made on their forehead? (Sometimes a bare finger is used to draw the cross, other times ashes; in baptism, consecrated oil - Chrism - may be used.)
Chrism is a special oil, consecrated by a bishop and treated reverently. Extra chrism may be buried or burned as a way of returning it to the earth, from which it came. Chrism = olive oil plus a fragrant ointment, often balsam (like a Christmas tree!). Other ancient recipes mix the olive oil with cinnamon, cassia (sweet & spicy), calamus (buttery/nutty), and/or myrrh (what the Wise Men brought Baby Jesus).
Why is Chrism consecrated by a bishop?
Where does oil show up in the Bible? In the life of Jesus?
Why is the fragrance of Chrism important?
After answering questions and making promises (or being spoken for by godparents), the baptized person is adopted forever into the Christian family:
"Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon these your servants the forgiveness of sin, and have raised them to the new life of grace.
Sustain them, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works. Amen."
(Then the Bishop or Priest places a hand on the person's head, marking on the forehead the sign of the cross [using Chrism if desired] and saying to each one by name)
"N. (your name!), you are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked
as Christ's own for ever. Amen."