God patiently waited in the days of Noah
during the building of the ark,
in which a few persons, eight in all,
were saved through water.
This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.
It is not a removal of dirt from the body
but an appeal to God for a clear conscience,
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
1 Pt 3:18-22

The immersion into the water is symbolic of death and rebirth: The baptized person dies in the water and is reborn in Christ, just as Christ himself died on the cross and was resurrected. The waters of Baptism have a cleansing effect, as the soul of the baptized person is washed and renewed by the Holy Spirit. Baptism is also associated with spiritual enlightenment — those who receive Baptism are enlightened in their understanding. Many stories in the Old Testament seem to prefigure Baptism: the story of the Great Flood, when the water drowned the wicked; the crossing of the Red Sea, which freed the Israelites from bondage; the crossing of the River Jordan into the Promised Land. In the New Testament, Jesus himself is baptized before beginning his mission. After Pentecost, the apostles began to baptize new converts to the faith.
Helen Keeler and Susan Grimbly