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Pastor's Reflections

The Sacrament of Baptism

A legacy of the Protestant Reformation was elimination of five of the seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church (“RCC”).

Footnotes:

Protestant: “Protest”-ant i.e. protester (against the corruption and abuses of the Roman Catholic Church and Papacy ignited by Martin Luther and others in the 15th & 16th centuries.)

Reformation: “Reform”-ation i.e. a cleansing, “going back to the basics,” refocus of Christianity

These were as follows:

  • Eucharist (Communion) as celebrated daily/weekly in the Mass
  • Baptism
  • Marriage
  • Confirmation/1st Communion
  • Confession/Reconciliation
  • Holy Orders/Ordination
  • Extreme Unction (anointing of the sick/dying/dead)

Only the Last Supper (Communion/Eucharist) and Baptism are sacraments named in the gospels. The other five accreted as sacraments over the centuries, but have thin or non-existent bases in scripture.

It has been a custom at Pilgrim to conduct annual, full-immersion baptisms at Englewood Beach. We have scheduled one on Sunday, September 22, for 1:00-5:00 pm. All are welcome whether you desire baptism/re-baptism or just want to join the celebration. We have rented pavilion #2 and we will have a picnic lunch and time to fellowship before the baptisms.

Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the “living waters” of the Jordan: an event which precipitated his ministry. In the early Church, baptism, initiation into membership and first communion was reserved for adults and occurred on Easter morning after one year of study and instruction. Before daylight prospective members (“Catechumens”) were separated by sex and led to an under-ground place, where they stripped, bathed and put on white garments. At the break of dawn, they were led above ground and baptized in “living” (moving) waters. They were then welcomed by members and served their first communion.

The doctrine put forth by the RCC prior to Vatican II (the Church Council convened by Pope John XXIII in 1962) was that unbaptized children could not go to heaven nor be buried in consecrated ground. Accordingly, infants were baptized as soon as possible after birth. This negated the ancient teaching which was that only enlightened adults who accepted Christ as their Savior were eligible for baptism. The RCC has since relaxed this teaching.

There is a wonderful article in Christian Century this month entitled “Buried With Christ” By Rev. Frank G. Honeycutt. I commend it to you. Just Goggle the above italicized words and it will come up.

 

In the words of the Apostle Paul, this is the takeaway:

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. -Romans 6: 3-5

Blessings, Pastor Mike

 

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