Sacramentum A Latin word meaning 'oath' and later 'sacrament.' Mysterion A Greek word used with sacrament meaning something that can be known through revelation.
So, what's the big deal?
1. Sacraments are rituals practiced that connect us to the mystery of God's love. While there are many ways we can be open to God's love and grace, United Methodists practice two specific rituals known as sacraments: holy communion and baptism. These are the only two practices that Jesus specifically commands in the Gospels. (See Mathew 28:19-20 and Luke 22:14-21)
2. Baptism is a community celebration in the United Methodist Church. The congregation vows to develop and support those being baptized whether they're adults or infants during a Baptismal Covenant service. This service is a public recognition of the sacred nature of our holy agreement with God as individuals and as a community of faith.
3. In baptism, we acknowledge and celebrate the grace of God, freely offered to us before we were even aware of it. We confess our sin, accept membership in the family of Christ and vow to trust in and serve Jesus Christ as our Lord. Baptism is an outward and visible sign of our covenant (holy agreement) with God to accept God's gifts of freedom and power and to grow in faith through the constant efforts of the Holy Spirit in the lifelong practice of prayer, study, service, witness and worship.
4. Water cleanses and purifies. It is necessary for all life. Sprinkling, pouring, and immersion are all acceptable uses of water for baptism in the United Methodist church. Baptism is made in the name of 'The Father, Son and Holy Spirit' whatever method we select.
5. Baptism may occur at any age.
6. The United Methodist Church offers opportunities for reaffirmation of baptismal vows at significant crossroads of individual lives and the life of the church. These may include confirmation, entry into membership in a United Methodist congregation, marriages, funerals, celebration of the baptism of Jesus, Easter and Pentecost. At these services, we renew our vow to love and serve Jesus Christ. We are encouraged to remember our baptism and be thankful.
Maybe your spiritual life has become stodgy, lifeless or boring. These words describe us not God. Sometimes we can get confused, lost or just plain busy. Even good things like marriage, a child, relocation or even a new job can become a barrier to our relationship with God. Distance from God isn't usually something that happens all at once. Distance starts with incremental drifts away until one day we may be jolted by the admission that we are far from God. There may be no overt reason, experience or tragedy. We simply drifted away. God longs for us to be spiritually alive and to be a connected, devoted, generous follower of Jesus Christ. Don't settle for anything less any longer.
Sunday, August 2, we will provide a way for you to do something incredibly personal but has the power to invigorate your spiritual life. You may renew or reaffirm your baptism vow or be baptized for the first time. Go ahead, take the leap and jump in confidently knowing God has so much more for you! It is possible to have the spiritual life you've always wanted.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 NIV