“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
Baptism is the first of seven sacraments of the Armenian Church, and it is through baptism that one begins his or her life in the Church. For this reason, baptism is sometimes called the “Door of the Church,” and the sacrament itself begins in the narthex of the house of worship.
Through baptism one is cleansed and absolved of the “original sin” that was committed by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The service represents Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. The individual is immersed in sanctified water three times in the name of the Holy Trinity. This symbolizes the three days Christ lay in the tomb following the Crucifixion.
The ceremony of immersion is accompanied by the following prayer: “This servant of God, coming from the state of catechumen to baptism, is being baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and, being expiated by the blood of Christ from the captivity of sin, receives the adoption of the Heavenly Father, becoming co-heir with Christ and a temple for the Holy Spirit.”
Also during the time of baptism, the individual is anointed with holy chrism (muron). This ceremony links the newly baptized to generations of Armenian faithful, including the Apostles of Christ who first brought the muron to Armenia. At the conclusion of the service, the newly baptized individual receives Holy Communion. Thus, the newly baptized is fully prepared to take part in the life of the Armenian Church.
Christian parents are encouraged to baptize their children by the eighth day or up to the 40th day after birth. The godfather at the baptism must be a member of the Armenian Church, and should not be a blood relative so that he can create a new spiritual relationship with his godchild. It is the godfather’s responsibility to oversee his godchild’s spiritual growth.