St. Mary the Virgin Little Burstead
We believe baptism is a gateway into God`s church. This is best explained using the event of an adult being baptised by immersion. What normally happens is that the person goes into a baptismal pool (though it can be the sea or a river – Jesus was baptised in the river Jordan) and then allows him or herself to be totally submerged under the water for a brief moment. He* is then raised up out of the water.
What does all this mean? When the person is submerged under the water for a brief moment, this represents the death, or end, of the life that person has lived without Jesus. When they are raised up, dripping wet, out of the water, this represents them beginning a new life with Jesus Christ, washed clean from
their sin by the death of Jesus on the cross. The Bible tells us that when Jesus was crucified on the cross, He was taking on Himself the responsibility and punishment for the sin of the whole world – including yours.
When the person is raised up out of the water, this represents them being raised up to begin a new life with Jesus, clean from their sin, with the Holy Spirit living in them. This life will last for all of eternity (hence the phrase ‘eternal life’).
Of course, as well as adult baptisms, the Church of England also baptises infants, by the pouring of water on the head instead of immersing the infant in water. While the physical mechanics of baptising an infant are clearly different from the baptism of an adult by immersion as described above, the meaning of the act of baptism is the same. Hence, we see the baptism of an infant as the beginning of their life with God as part of the church. Accordingly, we welcome all families for the baptism of an infant who are intending for the baptism to mark the beginning of their active involvement with the life of the church.
*Throughout this piece, ‘he’ is used to mean ‘he or she’