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Christian baptism, therefore, has a much broader and more profound meaning than that of John. It’s not simply a ceremony marking entry into the Christian community in the way that circumcision marks a boy’s membership to the Jewish people, and it’s far more than a “naming” ceremony.
Baptism is a mystical participation in the death and resurrection of Christ. The candidate goes under the water, “drowning” to his or her old life, and is then dramatically drawn out into a new kind of existence. Christians believe that the church isn’t simply an association of like-minded people, but is the very “body of Christ,” which, in another mode, burst out of the tomb at Easter. In the early church, baptisms were principally conducted at Easter to reinforce this connection.
In the baptismal liturgy, the water is blessed with words that call attention to the place of water in the history of salvation:
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Father, we give you thanks and praise for your gift of water in creation; for your Spirit, sweeping over the waters, bringing light and life.
You delivered Noah from the waters of destruction; you divided the waters of the sea, and by the hand of Moses you led your people from slavery into the Promised Land.
In water your son Jesus received the baptism of John. In it we are buried with Christ in his death. By it we share in his resurrection.
May your holy and life-giving Spirit move upon these waters. Restore through them the beauty of your creation. Drown sin in the waters of judgement.
Now sanctify this water that they may be cleansed from sin and born again. (Common Worship: Christian Initiation, 2006)