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- Church Practices - Infant Baptism & Dedication
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As a Free Methodist Church we interchange the words baptism and dedication. For us having parents offer their children back to God alongside of their community is an important and symbolic act towards owning our identity as Christians. Baptism/Dedication is the basic sacrament of initiation where a relationship is established between the candidate and the church. The candidate formally begins to be a disciple and the community commits to guide them in following Christ. Whenever requested by the parents we will have a section of our service where they are given this opportunity. These are the questions they will be asked.
[To the Parents]
Do you, in the presence of God and this church, solemnly dedicate these children to the Lord?
Do you renounce evil and all its works and all its ways so that you will endeavour neither to follow them nor be led by them?
Will you faithfully strive by word and example to lead these children to personal faith in Christ?
Do you accept the story as we read in the scriptures and attempt to live it out in this community as your story as well?
Out of this story, will you diligently teach these children, the commandment of love and promises of salvation, raising them in the discipline and instruction of the church?
[To the Community]
Do we acknowledge our duty to support this family with our prayers and encouragement, thereby aiding both parents and children to fulfill all that has here been promised.
[Read to the child]
We dedicate you to God in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. May you experience God’s grace every day of your life within the company of us here at theStory and God’s people everywhere and one day make the faith yours to walk in.
By this act of dedication, we welcome you to a journey that will take your whole life. This isn’t the end. It’s the beginning of God’s experiment with your life. What God will make of you, we know not. Where God will take you, surprise you, we cannot say. This we do know and this we say””God is with you.
The Theology Behind The Practice
Baptism is participation in Christ’s death and resurrection (Romans 6.3″“5; Colossians 2.12); a washing away of sin (1 Corinthians 6.11); a new birth (John 3.5); an enlightenment by Christ (Ephesians 5.14); a reclothing in Christ (Galatians 3.27); a renewal by the Spirit (Titus 3.5); the experience of salvation from the flood (1 Peter 3.20″“21); an exodus from bondage (1 Corinthians 10.1″“2) and a liberation into a new humanity in which barriers of division, whether of sex or race or social status, are transcended (Galatians 3.27″“28; 1 Corinthians 12.13). The images are many but the reality is one.
It is a bold and audacious thing to baptize a child. It proclaims God’s sheer, gracious love. They are His, not based on merit or anything they have done or believed, but by grace alone. And they are one with us; fully one with us. We need to enact that, by being responsible for them and by forming and loving them, but also by making real space for them, such that they may exercise their ministry to us ““ so that the gift that is their childhood may be for this community a recollection of what it is that fits us for the Kingdom of God.”
– Jamie Howison
Here, with our emphasis on the narrative nature of Christian life, we are saying that salvation is baptism into a community that has so truthful a story that we forget ourselves and our anxieties long enough to become part of that story, a story God has told in Scripture and continues to tell in Israel and the church. Christians have children, in great part, in order to be able to tell our children the story. Fortunately for us, children love stories. It is our baptismal responsibility to tell this story to our young, to live it before them, to take time to be parents in a world that (though intent on blowing itself to bits) is God’s creation (a fact we would not know without this story). We have children as a witness that the future is not left up to us and that life, even in a threatening world, is worth living””and not because “Children are the hope of the future,” but because God is the hope of the future. Such reality saves us by placing us within an adventure that is nothing less than God’s purpose for the whole world, and communally training us to fashion our lives in accordance with what is true rather than what is false.
– Stanley Hauerwas