What is Baptism?
Through the sacrament of Baptism, we are called and transformed by God’s unconditional and universal grace. With water and the name of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – we are joined to the Body of Christ. Baptism joins us to the Church universal (across geography and time) within the local community of faith.
“In baptism our gracious heavenly Father frees us from sin and death by joining us to the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are born children of a fallen humanity; by water and the Holy Spirit we are reborn children of God and made members of the church, the body of Christ. Living with Christ and in the communion of saints, we grow in faith, love, and obedience to the will of God.”
Evangelical Lutheran Worship, p. 227
“In Holy Baptism the Triune God delivers us from the forces of evil, puts our sinful self to death, gives us new birth, adopts us as children, and makes us members of the body of Christ, the Church. Holy Baptism is received by faith alone.”
The Use and Means of Grace, II.14
“Baptism is the sign of new life through Jesus Christ. It unites the one baptized with Christ and with his people. The New Testament scriptures and the liturgy of the Church unfold the meaning of baptism in various images which express the riches of Christ and the gifts of his salvation. These images are some- times linked with the symbolic uses of water in the Old Testament. Baptism is participation in Christ’s death and resurrection (Rom. 6:3–5; Col. 2:12); a washing away of sin (I Cor. 6:11); a new birth (John3:5); an enlightenment by Christ (Eph. 5:14); a re- clothing in Christ (Gal. 3:27); a renewal by the Spirit(Titus 3:5); the experience of salvation from the flood (I Peter 3:20–21); an exodus from bondage (I Cor. 10:1–2) and a liberation into a new humanity in which barriers of division whether of sex or race or social status are transcended (Gal. 3:27-28; I Cor. 12:13). The images are many but the reality is one.”
Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry, II.2
Who is Baptized?
Baptisms normally occur within the Sunday assembly (which include Saturday evening). For those who are able and interested, Baptism during the Easter Vigil is especially commended as a meaningful, historic practice of the Church.
We believe that faith does not cause Baptism; rather, Baptism imparts and implants faith in the divine promise through the work of God alone. Therefore, following the practice of the ancient Church (and our understanding of the sacrament as expressing God’s unconditional love quite apart from our personal worth or affirmation of faith), infant baptism is a normal practice. However, the baptism of adults is becoming a more frequent occurrence, as recent cultural changes have made infant baptism (or church membership) less common.
In all cases, those who have not been baptized are welcome to membership (i.e., full, active participation) in the Church through the waters of Baptism. Baptism Seminars are offered regularly through the year by the pastoral staff.
In the Lutheran tradition (again, in conformity with the ancient and universal practice of the ecumenical Church), baptism is only received once and is not repeated.