Thursday, May 29, 2008

sinners cape

A few comments were made back in April regarding the “sinner’s cape” that we used for Micah’s Baptism. Jamie is allowing me to be a guest writer, not a ghost writer, and offer a bit of explanation.

In the Pastor’s Agenda (the book he uses for special services or occasional rites—like a baptism, wedding, funeral, ground breaking, etc.) there are a couple options following the actual baptism:

The pastor may light a baptismal candle from the paschal candle and give it to the newly baptized while saying:
“Receive this burning light to show that you have received Christ who is the Light of the World. Live always in the light of Christ, and be ever watchful for His coming, that you may meet Him with joy and enter with Him into the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, which shall have no end.

Or

The pastor may place a white garment on the newly baptized while saying:
Receive this white garment to show that you have been clothed with the robe of Christ’s righteousness that covers all your sin. So shall you stand without fear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the inheritance prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

Maybe you’ve seen congregations give a shell, or the baptismal cloth. These are options intended to teach, to highlight the life-giving event that has just taken place.

The option to give the white garment is not often used, largely, because the babies are already wearing a white garment, and therefore, the symbolism and teaching is lost. In other words, why does a baby receive another white garment? Additionally, wearing the white garment prior to the baptism can lead people to believe that babies are born innocent, and don’t really need to be washed of their sin.

So, in order to heighten this teaching opportunity, I asked a member of the congregation to sew a black cape that babies would wear over their white garment. At the beginning of the baptismal rite, the pastor says: “The Word of God also teaches that we are all conceived and born sinful and are under the power of the devil until Christ claims us as His own. We would be lost forever unless delivered from sin, death, and everlasting condemnation.” If this option is chosen, I now insert the following: “____________ is wearing black as a reminder of his/her sin, and need for forgiveness.” After the baptism is performed, then we remove the sinner’s cape to reveal the white baptismal gown, and I say the appropriate words (see above).

This is a visual teaching tool that we hope the congregation will continue to use for years to come. The cape hangs in my office closet, and is available for parents to use with their children.

I hope this helps!

Peace in Christ,
Greg

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