Baptism is the sacrament by which one is welcomed into the Christian faith and community. In our church family, baptism is open to everyone, both children and adults, because we believe that faith is a gift that comes from God, rather than any accomplishment on our part. Baptism is not a prize nor a privilege because one believes right or understands enough or is living just so. Instead, baptism is God’s love embracing us long before any of us have life, ourselves or God all figured out (if we ever do!).

Baptism suggests that for God being loved and in turn being loving..being forgiven and in turn being forgiving… is the best practice of what it means to really live and be fully alive. In baptism, we pray, with God’s help, we can leave behind everything about our lives that makes us less than human. In this sense baptism is an outward sign of God’s inward grace– ironically, we need Divine help to become truly human! The inward cleansing of baptism is symbolically the beginning within you of something strange and new and hopeful.

When our pastor baptizes a little baby, he uses these words from the French Protestant liturgy,via the late Rev. William Sloane Coffin of the Riverside Church in New York City:

For you, little child, Jesus came into the world.
For you, he ministered to the outcast and the alone.
For you, he healed the sick and raised the dead.
For you, he preached good news of God the Father and of the kingdom coming.
For you, he suffered the loneliness of Gethsemane and the agony of Calvary.
For you, little child, he died, was buried, and on the third day, he rose again.
All this for you, little child, and you know nothing of this.

But now into this faith, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
one God, mother of us all.

Baptism — which we practice by making promises before God and marking the sign of the cross with water on the forehead of the baptized — is open to all who wish to receive this blessing, members and non-members alike. Old First only baptizes during our Sunday service, as we believe that the presence of the congregation, representing the whole church of Jesus Christ, and their promises to “welcome, support and love” the newly baptized person is necessary for how God means for us to move forward together and grow. If you want to be baptized, please speak with the pastor.