THE MEANING OF BAPTISM
Your child is precious to you and precious to God. You want the very best for them, and so does God. You want them to make right choices in life, for themselves and for others. A christening is just the beginning of this and so much more.
Over the years to come, it’s a journey you’ll share together with your child by:
- Being there for your child to talk to about the bigger questions of life – questions about hope, faith and love.
- Praying for your child through the ups and downs of their faith journey.
- Showing them practically how to make those good choices in life.
- Helping them to learn more about their Christian faith, through their church and in other ways.
So it’s a commitment to start as you mean to go on.
Baptism (also known as a Christening) is an important and joyous occasion in which the person being christened is welcomed into the church. By doing so, we affirm that they are indeed, like all people, made in the image of God, and are inheritors of the Kingdom of the Lord that Jesus lived and preached about.
Baptism celebrates the beginning of a journey with God which continues for the rest of our lives, the first step in response to God’s love. For all involved, particularly the candidates, but also the parents and Godparents, it is a joyful moment when we rejoice in what God has done for us in Christ, making serious promises and declaring the faith. The wider community of the local church and friends welcome the new Christian, promising support and prayer for the future.
The service paints many vivid pictures of what happens in the Christian way. Our “drowning” in the waters of baptism, where we believe we die to sin and are raised to new life, unites us in Christ’s dying and rising; a picture that can be brought home vividly by the way baptism is administered. Water is also a sign of new life, as we are born again by water and the Spirit, as Jesus was at his baptism.
There is the anointing using olive oil with the sign of the cross, the badge of faith in the Christian journey, which reminds us of Christ’s death for us all. Anointing is a very ancient custom, used in Old Testament times. You cannot see the sign of the cross on your forehead, you could ignore the eternal benefits which are given to you – but how much better to accept them joyfully and with thanksgiving, by having your faith in Jesus Christ strengthened in a Service of Confirmation when we exercise our full membership given at baptism.
As a sign of new life, there is a lighted candle, a picture of the light of Christ conquering the darkness of evil. Everyone who is baptised walks in that light for the rest of their lives.
THE BAPTISM SERVICE
Services can be held as part of the main 9.30am Sunday Service which lasts just over an hour. More often, people choose a separate services of baptism usually at 2pm or 3pm, which lasts about 45 minutes; there may be more than one family at any baptism service. You (and the Godparents) are requested to attend a 9.30am service for a welcome and blessing in advance of the christening and there will also be a follow-up visit from one of our friendly Baptism co-ordinators a few weeks following the service.
When we visit you to book we will agree with you dates for both the Blessing and for the Baptism. We will also give you a copy of the middle part of the service which includes all that Parents and Godparents have to say; this is to help you prepare and enjoy the service. You are welcome to take photos or videos during the service – it is usually better and less noticeable if you do not use flash and use common sense so as not to spoil it for others.
There is NO charge for a baptism service, however everyone is invited to make a donation during the service.
PARENTS AND GODPARENTS
Godparents are chosen to have a special relationship with the person being baptised; they promise to care for the person, to pray for them, and to bring them to confirmation. The traditional number of Godparents is three, but this is only a guideline.
There is no upper or lower age limit for baptism, or to act as a Godparent. As a parent, you do not need to have been Baptised to have your child Christened, but Godparents need to have been Baptised and if possible, Confirmed (but this is not essential). If someone you wish to be a Godparent has not been baptised, then this christening may well be a chance for them to be baptised too. If any other members of the family would also like to be baptised at the same time or on a different occasion, please let us know.
FIND OUT MORE
For more information about what's involved within a christening service, please see the Church Of England's website: https://churchofenglandchristenings.org/for-parents/what-is-a-christening/
If you would like to enquire about booking a Baptism at St John's, please contact Rev'd Andrew Smith at [email protected] or on 01354 279 232.