Baptism marks the beginning of a journey with God which continues for the rest of our lives. It is a first step we take in response to God’s love. For all involved, particularly the candidates but also parents, godparents and sponsors, it is a joyful and unrepeatable moment when we rejoice in what God has done for us in Christ, make some serious promises, and declare our faith. Baptism occurs in the context of the worshipping Christian community as the newly baptised are welcomed in the life and faith of the church. Baptism services are thus not conducted individually at private ceremonies.
The service paints many vivid pictures of what happens on the Christian way. There is the sign of the cross, the badge of faith in the Christian journey, which reminds us of Christ’s death for us. Our ‘drowning’ in the water of baptism, where we believe we die to sin and are raised to new life, unites us to Christ’s dying and rising. Water is also a sign of new life, as we are born again by water and the Spirit, as Jesus was at his baptism. And as a sign of that new life, there is a lighted candle, a picture of the light of Christ conquering the darkness of evil. Everyone who is baptised walks in that light for the rest of their lives.
Adapted from Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England 2000.