St Johns East Malvern

On the baptism of adults

The preparation of adults for baptism is generally a more involved process than for children, where faithful sponsors will spend many years nurturing their godchildren in the Christian faith. Traditionally, adults begin preparation for baptism during the season of Lent, in anticipation of baptism on Easter day. Adults will need to consider their personal relationship with Jesus and the Church, and develop a basic understanding of scripture and theology, prayer and self reflection. Adult candidates for baptism will also need to consider how they will serve Christ and his people in their day-to-day associations with family, friends, and neighbours, and through their work.

In this sense, baptism for adults inaugurates a new way of looking at the world and each other. What happened to Saint Paul in Damascus is symbolically typical of what happens to all new Christians. Scales fall from their eyes and the world is seen from a new perspective. Nonetheless, the sharpening of Christian eyesight is still a gradual process for most. It involves being part of a faith community, which through its pastoral, liturgical, and educational activities, nurtures, teaches, and forms the vision of the baptised.

Baptism for adults, therefore, is a radical, life-changing act of faith, which involves accepting Christ’s way, putting one’s trust in his love and mercy, and following wherever his Spirit leads. Candidates declare themselves willing to stand against all personal and corporate powers that separate us from God, or diminish or destroy His creation, or seduce individuals away from the love of God. What is called for is the painful annihilation of selfishness as the first step in the process of conversion (literally turning around) to the way of Christ. In the mysterious water of baptism, “we are buried with Christ in his death. By it we share in his resurrection. Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit. “