This fall we are exploring the sacraments in our Adult Forum series, and we have started at the beginning, with Baptism. Some of us were baptized as babies, while others were old enough to remember the ritual – but in either case, we have found that there is a wealth of meaning in this ancient sacrament! A few of the various strands of this meaning include a welcome into a parish community as well as into the Body of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, and a radical dying to our old life and rising into the new.
The pandemic has made it difficult to celebrate the sacrament of baptism for the last year and a half, but we are hoping that will change over this next year! And whether we have folks getting baptized or not, at least four times a year (on the feasts of All Saints’ Day, the Baptism of Christ, the Great Vigil of Easter, and Pentecost), we all get a chance to reconnect with our own baptism –whether we remember the actual event or not. On these special days, we renew the promises we made at our baptism (or that were made on our behalf if we were baptized when very young).
There is a prayer that is prayed for the newly baptized that is one of my favorites in the Book of Common Prayer. Even though it is generally only prayed for people who have just been baptized, I think it would make a wonderful addition to any of our liturgies when we renew our baptismal covenant. With a little revision, it could be a potent reminder of the hopes of the community, and of God, for every single one of us. In fact, it might make a wonderful prayer for all of us, at any time. I invite you to pray it now!
Gracious God, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon us the forgiveness of sin, and have raised us to the new life of grace. Sustain us, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give us an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works. Amen.
(BCP, p. 308; SH revision)