Baptism a a gift of God – that Holy Spirit direct, steer and support a person in their life in Christ. It is into this trinity of God, Son and Holy Spirit that we baptize. It is also into a community of faith that we baptize. The Lutheran church teaches and believes that baptism is central to our identity in Jesus Christ.
We have a tradition that sponsors (or think of the older term God-parents) bring forward a person for baptism. If this is an infant – we carry them, a young person – we lead them, an adult – we take their hand saying I am with you in this journey.
Here is the order of worship for baptism and it show the promise to lead a Godly life that we make as we receive this gift:
Pastor Prays: God, who is rich in mercy and love, gives us a new birth into a living hope through the sacrament of baptism. By water and the Word God delivers us from sin and death and raises us to new life in Jesus Christ. We are united with all the baptized in the one body of Christ, anointed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, and joined in God’s mission for the life of the world.
Sponsors for each candidate, in turn, present the candidates: I present name for baptism.
a) The presiding minister addresses candidates who are able to answer for themselves: Name, called by the Holy Spirit, trusting in the grace and love of God, do you desire to be baptized into Christ?
Each candidate responds: I do.
The presiding minister continues: As you come to receive the gift of baptism, you are entrusted with responsibilities:
- to live among God’s faithful people,
- to come the word of God and the holy supper,
- to know the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments,
- to read the holy scriptures,
- to proclaim Christ through word and deed,
- to care for others and the world God made,
- and to work for justice and peace.
b) The presiding minister addresses parents or others who bring for baptism children who are not able to answer for themselves: Called by the Holy Spirit, trusting in the grace and love of God, do you desire to have your children baptized into Christ?
Response: I do.
The presiding minister continues: As you bring your children to receive the gift of baptism, you are entrusted with responsibilities:
- to live with them among God’s faithful people,
- bring them to the word of God and the holy supper,
- teach them the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments,
- place in their hands the holy scriptures,
- and nurture them in faith and prayer,
- so that your children may learn to trust God,
- proclaim Christ through word and deed,
- care for others and the world God made,
- and work for justice and peace.
Do you promise to help your children grow in the Christian faith and life?
Response: I do.
The presiding minister addresses sponsors: Sponsors, do you promise to nurture these persons in the Christian faith as you are empowered by God’s Spirit, and to help them live in the covenant of baptism and in communion with the church?
Response: I do.
The pastor then will address the gathered community in Christ and ask them to support and pray for those about to be baptized. This step is most important. It is through community that we learn about Jesus’ summation of the all the commandments, laws and expectations: That you love God, and love your neighbour. It is in community that we learn about both parts of that call to love. It is in community that we especially get to do the the 2nd part – loving neighbour.