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Weekly Rector's Message

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Dear friends,

Like many people, I don’t remember my own baptism. It took place at St. Barnabas church in Auckland, New Zealand, when I was not quite three months’ old. I still have the original certificate, which carries the signatures of my godparents - now all gone to their rest. 

Baptism is our entry into the Christian Church. Jesus founded the Church to provide a kind of family center for Christians of all kinds. Baptism is the beginning of our long journey, which is why babies are baptized, even if they aren’t aware of it at the time. The parents and godparents promise before God that they will ensure the child grows up in the Christian faith. 

To symbolize our entry into the church and into the life of a Christian, fonts are traditionally placed near the front door of a church. Baptism is a sacrament - “an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace” - which confers gifts and blessings from God. The principal one is that of the Holy Spirit - the Spirit of wisdom and truth, whom we heard about last Sunday. The Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity.

Another symbol used in baptism is water. It is the symbol of life, and was originally used by John the Baptist to wash away sins. This cleansing in the river Jordan restored the repentant individual to a right relationship with God. Acknowledging that we fall short of what God requires, we confess our sins and place ourselves at the mercy of God. 

Whenever a church holds a baptism service, it provides an opportunity for early baptized Christians like me to hear and reaffirm the promises made at their own baptism. 

Another, simpler way of recalling your own baptism can be found on the wall next to the church entrance. A stoup is a small brass bowl which contains holy water. Above it is the image of a Celtic cross. As you enter the church, you dip your fingers in the water and make the sign of the cross over your body. The water is a symbol of our new life in Christ. By making this simple gesture you are dedicating yourself anew to following Christ and to keeping your baptismal promises.

There are many ways of praying and some, such as placing your hands together, or making the sign of the cross, have an intrinsic power and meaning, without the need for words to get in the way. Now you have another one. When you come to church, make it a habit each time to recall your own baptism, and as you do so, give thanks to God for his goodness and mercy.

With every blessing

Father David


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