We recognize two New Testament sacraments – Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (also called Communion or the Eucharist).
Both sacraments are signs of God’s initiative, not ours. In them God in Christ takes the first step toward us. The sacraments are signs of God’s reaching out to us in the past and of God’s ongoing concern for us now. The most important aspect of Baptism is not what we do, but what God does. The sacraments are the tangible, concrete "seals" of the promises of forgiveness, freedom, and new life offered in the gospel. In Baptism we are reminded especially of God’s promise: "I will be your God and you shall be my people."
On the individual level, Baptism is the action by which we participate in the death and resurrection of Jesus. In Baptism we are reminded that we have died with Christ to the old life of sin and bondage to sin, and have been raised with Christ to a new life of freedom and service. The waters of Baptism hearken back to the story of Israel’s exodus. As we "pass through the waters," we recall our liberation into a new humanity.
At the corporate level, Baptism places us in the community of those who likewise have received God’s grace in Christ. Baptism is the seal of our incorporation into the body of Christ, the Church, where barriers of race, sex, and social status are transcended. In Baptism God claims us and shows us that we belong to God.