Baptism is one of the two “sacraments” recognised by the Church of England. (The other is Holy Communion.) Both are connected with belonging. In the Gospels, we read about John the Baptist baptising people in the river Jordan. It is clear that those he baptised were, by being baptised, declaring themselves to belong to a new community – a community of people determined to serve God and keen to see his kingdom come. The word of God in John’s teaching had plainly affected them; they had become aware their manner of life had not been appropriate for citizens of God’s kingdom, so they took to the water in a symbolic and prayerful washing, committing themselves afresh to God’s service.
The Apostles continued the practice of baptising those who came to trust and follow Jesus as the King of God’s kingdom. Today, new members are still welcomed into the church family by baptism – the application of some water (either by pouring on the head or by full immersion) follows the candidate’s declaration of faith in Jesus and their expression of commitment to serve him throughout their life. The rite is a sacrament in that it is an outwardly visible act which represents and reflects an inward and invisible change in the life of the person.