Take Me To The Water


I wanted to share this with you today because we have been talking about baptism a lot recently and this song was used in the service on Sunday morning – very theatrical and dramatic which had a profound effect on everyone.

Sunday just gone was the day we think about Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist in the River Jordan, hence the water theme, and we revisited the readings from Sunday at last night’s bible study group. We talked about what baptism is, what it means, why did Jesus need to be baptised if he was from God anyway and a whole host of other questions along those lines.

 

We talked about the necessity (or not) of water in baptism, and how it is a symbolic cleansing as we undergo a major change and are claimed by God as his own. The Christian church is full of symbolism, none more so than when we baptise each other.

When we baptise babies, parents and godparents are pledging to God the life of that child. Some would say we dedicate them to God, others say we are placing them on their own personal pathway of faith. It has been the tradition that when children get to a certain age – different in different churches but generally around 12 years old or thereabouts – they undergo further tuition and take the decision to become Confirmed. This is a confirmation of faith and confirmation of the decision that was taken by their parents when they were baptised as children. But what happens then?

I am finding that now, as an adult with much more water under her bridge than I could have ever anticipated at the age of 14 when I got Confirmed, I would actually like to take the conscious decision to be baptised into my church because – at last – I know what it is I’m getting myself into, so to speak. But I can’t, because I’ve already been baptised and as Christians we believe that there is one baptism, one faith, one Lord.

It calls the practice of baptising babies into question then doesn’t it? By admitting a child into the church by baptism as a baby we are denying them of the chance to make an informed choice later on. So why do we do it?

Some would say that without a baptism, a child would fail to thrive, or isn’t “in God’s care” and therefore at risk from devils and demons…. yeah, I know. Superstitions run high even in this age of modern enlightenment, but the point remains that baptism for infants and children is still a highly respected sacrament in many people’s lives.

I made the point last night in our discussion group that the baptism of infants might well have stemmed from a pagan ritual from pre-Christian times where children were subjected to a host of practices in order to protect them. I suggested that the symbolic cleansing of babies could have been linked with other practices people had, such as placing iron near or around the crib and drawing a protective circle on the floor so that evil spirits couldn’t harm them. I have no proof of that by the way, it’s just my imagination connecting a few fragments of pagan lore that I know about with the very murky beginnings of infant baptism that the church alludes to.

What is your experience of baptism? People in different faiths would obviously have a different ritual for infants, and I’m interested to know about those as well as how other Christians from different countries practice it. Is it something preserved for adults only where you are, or do you routinely have infant baptisms? Do you have any sort of “follow up” practice when children grow older? Are you a person with no faith? How do you “welcome” babies into the fold? Do you have an equivalent naming ceremony or is it something that just doesn’t matter to you? How far wide of the mark am I with my pagan/early Christian mythology theory??

I’m interested in all of your answers and your experiences whatever they are and wherever you are.  Please drop me a line with your thoughts.

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About Pam Smith

I am a Christian and currently exploring vocation. I am a writer, I conduct a brass band, I am an avid reader and when I'm not doing any of those things I crochet with a fierce passion. I am mum to two fantastic young adults, celebrating my Silver wedding anniversary in 2016 with my husband. I recently gained my Bachelor of Arts with honours.
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3 Responses to Take Me To The Water

  1. viviellevirgule says:

    I do believe in infant baptism. In the Orthodox Church babies are baptized and chrismated and receive the Eucharist, because we want them to receive the sacraments.* We don’t have a confirmation type thing in later childhood. Basically we baptize as infants in order to raise the child in the faith with the hope that the child will grow up in the Church and love God and accept the teachings of the church. Ok, so I am not saying this very elegantly. These links do a MUCH better job of saying what I’m trying to and explain the history of why infant baptism is practiced. 🙂

    http://www.antiochian.org/content/infant-baptism-what-church-believes

    (This article is pretty long but worth reading the whole thing, imho.)

    http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith7067

    * And as an interesting side note, because of “One Lord, one faith, one baptism,” converts are NOT typically rebaptized provided that they were baptized in the name of the Trinity, regardless of whether it was a full immersion or a sprinkling baptism (we typically do full immersion although sprinklings are certainly allowed particularly when the infant is say very ill in the hospital). A baptism done only “in Jesus’ name” will have to be redone. We do do chrismation though for all converts regardless of whether they have to be baptized or not.

    Sorry for such a long comment!

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    • sterlingsop says:

      Thank you so much for your comment. I am interested to know how other people “do” baptism and you have described your methods very well 🙂 It seems we have similar reasons for doing what we do with infants and baptism but we call them different names, and we have a similar methodology although there are significant differences. Thank you for taking the time and trouble for replying to my questions, I appreciate you doing that.

      Like

  2. auntyuta says:

    Thanks for this very interesting post, Pam. I was interested too what Vievielle said about the practices in the Orthodox Church. I am a convert to the Roman Catholic Church. I was rebaptized.
    Peter and I we had both been baptized as babies and even confirmed later on in the protestant church which is called ‘evangelisch’ in Germany. By the time I met Peter neither of us belonged to any church any more. So we didn’t marry in the church and none of our children were baptized.
    I became a convert at age 43.

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