Holy Baptism at the Church of Our Father, Hulls Cove
The risen Jesus gave this message to the Church: “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.” (Revelation 3:20). Jesus also commanded his Church to make disciples, baptize, and teach (Matthew 28:18-20). In the Sacrament of Baptism, a person answers our Lord’s knock. He or she responds to Jesus’ invitation, “Follow me.” The person commits herself or himself to follow Jesus as Savior and obey him as Lord; and Jesus, according to his promise, thoroughly commits himself to that person.
Baptism with water is one of the two great Gospel Sacraments (along with Holy Communion), given by Jesus himself. It fully initiates a person into the Church. The Bible uses many images to help us understand the one mystery of Baptism:
- Becoming one body with Christ, he abiding in us, and we in him (John 15:1-9; 1 Corinthians 12:12).
- The Sacrament of the New Covenant between God and the people he has mercifully chosen (Hebrews 10:16-17).
- A new birth, a birth from above, into new life in the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ (John 3:3-7; Romans 7:4-6).
- Participation in Christ’s death and resurrection (Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12).
- The washing away of sin, and renewal in the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:5).
- Awakening to the light of Christ (Ephesians 5:13-14).
- “Putting on Christ,” like a dazzling new wardrobe (Galatians 3:27).
- Rescue from judgment, as from a flood (1 Peter 3:20-21).
- Emancipation from self-centeredness into the unity of all Christians that transcends nationality, sex, or social position (1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Galatians 3:28).
- Adoption into a new family (John 1:12; Romans 8:14-23; Galatians 3:2, 4:4-7).
- Ordination (and coronation) into a “kingdom of priests” (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6)
- Membership in a missionary organization (John 17:18, 20:21; Acts 1:8).
- Becoming a temple, or vessel, of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19).
The recipient’s response in Baptism is confession of sin; conversion (changes in one’s heart, or habits of mind; a change in the direction of one’s life); a public declaration of trust in Jesus Christ; and loyalty to him. A baptized person is “under new management.”
An adult Catechumen (candidate for Baptism) undergoes an organized preparation and instruction in Christian belief, prayer, worship, and godly moral behavior. Regular attendance at Sunday worship is expected of persons preparing for Baptism. One of the promises made at Baptism is to continue, with God’s help, “in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers.” The “seed” planted in Baptism must be nourished if it is to produce fruit (Mark 4:20).
Some churches, including the Church of Our Father, baptize infants and the young children of believing parents, even though the children themselves might not be “believers” in the strict sense. This practice acknowledges that God is the initiator of the covenant relationship, and that the gifts imparted at Baptism are unearned. The Holy Spirit is already at work in our spirits before we respond to his invitation. No one is too young to have a relationship with God in Christ or to participate in the life of God’s family. Faith is primarily a relationship of love and trust rather than the mastery of information.
In the Baptism of a child or infant, parents and sponsors (“godparents”) guarantee that they will bring the child up “in the knowledge and love of God”; nurture the child within the fellowship of the Church, and with the Church’s support; and guide the child in following Jesus. The parents become the primary prophets and priests to their child; their household will be the first “church” the child knows. Without a minimum commitment on the parents’ part, the promises they make for the child are pointless and insincere. We must not take lightly the promises we make to God.
The parents must meet at least once with a member of the clergy before the Baptism. At the time of Baptism, at least one of the child’s parents must be a member of the Church of Our Father who has attended Sunday worship regularly for at least 6 months and who supports the Church with his or her financial stewardship. Parents who don’t feel the prepared to be “prophets and priests” for their children are strongly urged to participate in one of the Alpha Courses offered on MDI during the winter months.
Committed members of Christian churches elsewhere may ask to have their children baptized in the Church of Our Father if they have pressing reasons for their child to be baptized in this Church. They will be asked to provide the name of their home church and contact information for their pastor.
Candidates must be sponsored for Baptism by one or more baptized persons. Sponsoring others for Baptism is a way for baptized people to exercise their “priesthood.” As sponsors, they present the candidates to the priest, vouch for them, and declare their own intention as sponsors to support the candidates by prayer and example in their Christian life. Sponsors of infants and children are commonly called “godparents.” Godparents, along with the parents, present their candidates, make the promises in their own names, and also take the vows on behalf of their candidates. Parents should choose as godparents people who can make those promises in good faith and who believe the Gospel teaching as summarized in the Apostles’ Creed.
The Book of Common Prayer strongly recommends four Holy Days in the Church Year as appropriate days for Baptism: Easter (early spring), Pentecost (mid-May or early June), All Saints’ Day (November 1, or the Sunday following), and the Feast of Our Lord’s Baptism (the Sunday after the Epiphany, early January). The day of the Bishop’s Visitation is also considered an appropriate day. If you request a Baptism for yourself or your child, the priest will first suggest one of these dates to you. For reasonable cause, the priest will agree to schedule the Baptism at some other time. Except in an emergency, Baptism takes place at a regularly scheduled service of public worship. There are no private baptisms.
Come join us for Worship, Song, and Fellowship!
SUNDAY HOLY EUCHARIST
8 am and 10 am
8 am, followed by breakfast
HOLY DAYS and FEAST DAYS
The Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane
Bishop of Maine
The Rev. Suzanne Cole
The Rev. Mary-Carol Griffin