The New Church honors an environment in which individuals are encouraged to freely take charge of their own spiritual path at their own pace. There are two sacred commitments to show your faith and dedication to the Lord and a life according to His teachings—baptism and holy supper (or communion).
Baptism is a sign that a person is a follower of the Lord God Jesus Christ, that they are a Christian.
The New Church offers baptism to adults and infants. The New Church teaches that the act of baptism does not transfer faith or “save” you. It is a sign of what a person must do to be regenerated or be born again spiritually (which is a process, not an event).
Water is used because it is a symbol for truth. We must learn what is true (why water is applied to the forehead) and strive to love what is true (why water is applied to the chest) and this comes about through our efforts to shun negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors we observe in ourselves. The fact that this is difficult and trying is why the water is applied in the symbol of the cross—a sign signifying temptation. If we do this we are a true follower of the Lord, which is what a Christian truly is.
Baptism is a promise made between an individual and the Lord. It is often done in public because there is value in recognizing that our efforts to live this way are best achieved with the support of, and accountability found in, a community. Baptism is an introduction into the church, not a confirmation that one believes everything of the church.
If you have already been baptized in another faith/denomination, and you want to make a commitment to the New Church, it is powerful to be re-baptised as an expression of this commitment. This does not negate your former baptism, but marks your new commitment and faith.
The holy supper (or holy communion) is the sacred ritual of receiving blessed unleavened bread and wine. It is often offered at the end of a worship service, at periodic times throughout the year. It is taught in the New Church, that one is to prepare for the holy supper. People often choose to take the Holy Supper around Easter time, in remembrance of when the Lord first offered the Holy Supper to his disciples on the evening before his crucifixion.
“The Holy Supper was instituted by the Lord, that by means of it the church may be conjoined with heaven, and thus with the Lord; it is, therefore, the most holy thing of worship. But conjunction with the Lord by the Sacrament of the Holy Supper, is effected solely with those who are in the good of faith and love to the Lord from the Lord; with others indeed there is the presence of the Lord, but no conjunction with Him” (Arcana Coelestia 10519,10522).
There are a variety of ways that we can prepare for the Holy Supper. One way is to engage in self-examination to identify an evil tendency that we need to work on. We can feel free to partake of the Holy Supper when we have prepared in other ways. The key is to come before the Lord with humility and with our minds focused on Him.