We’re really looking forward to Celebration Sunday on 27 March. I hope you are too! At our last Celebration Sunday we had 36 candidates either baptised or confirmed as a celebration of the transformation of life that only Jesus can bring. This year we’ll be doing the same thing again and we’ll be joined by our Archbishop, Kanishka Raffel.
Could it be that you or your child will be a candidate for baptism or confirmation this year? Now’s the time to let us know!
Perhaps before that happens you want to think a little more about what baptism is.
The word “baptism” itself is used in a number of ways in the New Testament. First, it speaks more broadly of the idea of being united in a group with someone else. Paul told that Corinthians that the Hebrews were “baptised into Moses” at the Red Sea (1Cor. 10:2). In the same way we are “baptised into Christ Jesus” when we trust in him (Rom. 6:3). We might call this the real “spiritual baptism”.
The other use of the word “baptism” is more familiar to us as the practice of pouring water over someone or immersing someone as a sign of their spiritual baptism. It’s very obvious from the New Testament that new believers were baptised in water in this way (e.g. Acts 8:36 ff) along with their households (e.g. Acts 16:33). This was, after all, exactly what Jesus commanded (Matt. 28:19).
Water Baptism is described by the 39 Articles as a “sign”. All signs point to something bigger than themselves and this is certainly true for baptism. It marks Christians as different to the world and symbolises the new birth that only faith in Jesus can bring. The pouring of water over someone, or their immersion in water, points to the “death to life” new birth that only Jesus can give us, bringing us safely through the flood of judgement and out the other side. Think of Jesus raised from the dead and our own “new birth” with him. Think also of those ancient Hebrews that passed through the Red Sea because they were “baptised into Moses”.
So baptism is the sign of the transforming new birth of Jesus and it’s commanded for each of us. We also baptise our children as a form of “visible word” spoken in advance to them in the hope that as they grow up they will confirm the promises made on their behalf.
If you’ve never been baptised then March 27 is the day for you! We also want to encourage you to baptise your children if they’re young, or speak to them if they’re older about being baptised (or confirmed if they were baptised as a child). Of course, baptism or confirmation can’t save us and they certainly aren’t rites of passage to be performed when we reach a certain age. They are powerful signs given to us by Jesus that point to the gospel change that only he can bring.
At St John’s we want to celebrate that gospel change of Jesus together. Please do speak to one of your pastors if you want to be part of the baptisms and confirmations on March 27.
Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but is also a sign of Regeneration or new Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed; Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God. The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.
Bruce Morrison / Senior Minister & David Ould / Senior Associate Minister
St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Parramatta
PRAY: Give thanks for the signs of baptism and confirmation given to us by Jesus that point to the gospel change that only he can bring. Pray for all those considering baptism or confirmation this March – give thanks that they have been given new life in Christ, and pray that they would continue to follow him throughout their lives.
Join us this Sunday for our Sunday services. We meet at 8am, 9:30am, 11am and 5pm at the Cathedral – and online at 9:30am. Check out out Sunday services page for more information on our face-to-face services.