what is baptism?
When Jesus went to be baptised in the waters of the Jordan the Spirit of God came upon him. Submitting himself to the radical prophet John, they immersed themselves in that wild space and into the particular revolutionary history of a visionary people committed to personal, social and spiritual transformation.
And so the faith of biblical people begins with a wilderness encounter.
It is an acknowledgement of the power of God that comes to us from outside of civilization. Baptism is a sign of an alternative kingdom come, a different economy of existence, a new way of seeing and being fully human in our world.
This newness derives from participation in the life, death and resurrection of Christ.
Christ’s baptism was completed in the way he lived his life of love, with an authority that demonstrated power over sickness and demons, human oppression and death. This ‘way’ saw him suffer and die but through his resurrection, God affirmed this life and its power to save. Our baptism is the sign of our participation in this mystery.
By water and the Spirit of Pentecost it is Christ himself who baptises us, claiming us as his own, washing us from sin and setting us free from the power of death in our world.
Baptism is a powerful transformational ritual, a personal and political statement in a social context calling upon the wild Holy Spirit in the undomesticated spaces of wilderness in the struggle against Empire. – Ched Myers
It brings about new life, new creation, new family, new community, for the participant and for us all, as the process of being a baptising community is lived out. It is a rite of initiation and passage into a cosmic cloud of witnesses, a communion of saints. A spiritual connection binding us to ancestors and to each other.
While any individual Christian baptism is enacted in a by a specific people, who identify around a particular expressions of faith, it is also a sign of the inherent unity of God’s whole creation and of the call to transformation of the brokenness and division within which much of humanity exists.
Any Baptism engages us, as a particular group of people, with the whole of human life and the entirety of the purposes of God.
In this sacrament the love, grace and hospitality of God is offered to each one of us. Though we cannot fully understand or explain it we are invited to accept that love with the openness and trust of a child.
In baptism we are assured of the love that God has for us and the sign of the Holy Spirit is placed upon us.
At Newmarket Baptist we encourage people to be baptised by full immersion as an act of public witness to faith in Jesus and our commitment to seek to follow his way in the world.
Baptism is also a way of identifying and belonging to our specific local faith community as a covenant partner.
As a ritual of initiation and as a natural response to the invitation of Christ we encourage people to be baptised as soon as they are able in a timely way. We also value the time of Lent and Easter as a traditional time of spiritual reflection and study in preparing one for baptism.
We love baptisms in the baptistry of our Brighton Street Prayer Sanctuary and the connections it creates with those who have been baptised over the last 130 years, we also think that the primal wilderness imagery lends itself to baptism in the wild oceans, rivers and creeks of God’s good creation.
We encourage people to develop their own liturgy (work of the people) around the words and images of their baptism in order to bear witness to Christ’s work in their specific story, the values and burdens you wish to die to and proclaim the good news of what ‘rising with Christ’ look like in your story.
People interested in baptism should contact our community curator or hosts at firstname.lastname@example.org
Coming soon… our baptism stories… who are baptists?
Sources include Ched Myers;
‘The Shock of Baptisimal Dying’ by Jenny Dawson, Stimulus, 2009;
The Church of Scotland Prayer Book.