Beliefs about the Sacraments
What is a sacrament?
The word sacrament is based on the Latin word sacramentum, which means "something sacred." In the early church sacramentum came to stand for many things sacred, including rites that had a hidden meaning. During the Reformation, using Scripture as a guide, the reformers limited the number of sacraments to two: baptism and the Lord's Supper. These sacraments, instituted by Christ, are a means of grace within the covenant community. They are visible signs and seals of something internal and invisible and the means by which God works in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.
What is baptism?
Baptism is a sign and seal of God's covenant of grace with us and our children. Baptism is the visible word of God that we are cleansed in Christ's blood, buried with him unto death, that we might rise with him and walk in newness of life. In the Reformed Church, baptism is always performed in the context of a congregation of God's people. The congregation commits itself to the spiritual nurture of the infant, child, or adult being baptized. Baptism is the mark of corporate as well as individual faith. The journey of faith that begins in individual baptism continues in the church community.
What happens during baptism?
In baptism God promises by grace alone to forgive our sins; to adopt us into the Body of Christ, the church; to send the Holy Spirit daily to renew and cleanse us; and to resurrect us to eternal life.
Through baptism Christ calls us to new obedience, to love and trust God completely; to forsake the evil of the world; and to live a new and holy life.
How does the Reformed Church practice baptism?
The Reformed Church baptizes infants as well as older children and adults. Recognizing the symbolic cleansing and refreshing characteristics of water, the RCA affirms sprinkling, immersion, and pouring as methods of baptism.
Ready to sign up for baptism?
Curious about the day of baptism?
Here is the liturgy we typically use:
TO THE CONGREGATION (standing)
Do you the members of this church family now renew your own baptismal vows as you celebrate this sacrament of grace?
Do you promise to seek God’s guidance as you welcome ________ into the wider family of faith?
Will you promise to pray for this family that they may know and love their Lord and understand the miracle of salvation through faith?
RECITING THE APOSTLES’ CREED
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth
And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
THE WATERS OF BAPTISM
THE CELEBRATION OF THE BAPTISM OF
Elder: Our Lord once said: “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs; Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”
Then Jesus put His arms around them, laid His hands on them, and He blessed them. Brothers and sisters, beloved in the Lord, the Sacrament of Baptism is a visible, holy sign and seal instituted by God so that God may the more fully reveal and seal to us the promise of the gospel, that because of the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross we are, through grace alone, granted the forgiveness of our sins and given new and eternal life.
Jesus said to his disciples: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the close of the age”.
The ancient promise of God is made visible in the waters of baptism. As surely as water cleanses us physically, so surely does the blood of Christ cleanse us spiritually. This promise is for you and for your children to signify their membership in the covenant household of faith.
PARENT/ GUARDIAN VOWS
__________, you are here to witness this the baptism of your child, one of the richest gifts that God gives. Since you claim for ______ the blessing of Baptism, I ask you now to vow to do those things God requires of you, that the will and pleasure of God may be made known to ___.
Do you acknowledge your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, and in this faith do you present ________ for baptism?
Do you acknowledge that you and ______ “fall short of the glory of God” by nature, but that by the grace of God alone you are forgiven and your old nature is put to death, so that you may be brought to newness of life and set apart as members of the body of Christ?
Do you promise to keep ______ in your prayers, love ___ without conditions, forgive ___ as Christ would, and to pray for God’s guidance as you raise ___ in the faith?
Do you promise to show in your own person the joy of new life in Christ by active participation with ______ in the life of Christ’s Church and by faithful attendance to worship, service, and the offering of prayers and gifts to the glory of God?
I do with the help of God