Going into the baptismal font symbolizes going into the tomb with Christ, and dying to sin with him.

Tuesday, 9/10/13

St Paul, writing to the Christians of Colossae, in what is now Turkey, speaking of Christ told them, “You were buried with him in Baptism.”

Let’s look back on First Century Christian practices to see in what way the Christians could be said to have been buried with Christ in Baptism.

Records show that they only baptized on Easter Saturday when they thought of Jesus lying in his tomb. They had died with him on Good Friday. They hoped to rise with him on Easter Sunday, but on Saturday they dug an oblong vat to represent the tomb of Jesus, and they filled it with water.

They had in mind words of Paul in Chapter Six of his Letter to the Romans. Speaking of Christ’s death, he had written, “His death was a death to sin.”

They saw Baptism as a pledge to die to sin with Christ, and they acted out that pledge by stepping down into an image of his tomb. They were voluntarily dying and being buried to sin.

If we still did our baptisms that way their meaning would be more forceful for us. However, our practice of just poring water on an infant’s head still makes for a valid baptism. A question about that arose while some of the Apostles were still alive. It was approved by a First Century document called the Teaching of the Apostles. And St. Augustine convincingly taught that infant baptism is valid, since there is nothing in infants too impede the flow of Grace.

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