Christening is also known as Baptism

 

FIRST CONTACT:  Claire Walsh
Telephone : 01257 433167

I like to speak to people and arrange to meet therefore I encourage couples thinking about baptism to ring me.  If I am not available, there is an answer-phone, and I will ring back.  Please speak clearly, particularly when you provide your contact telephone number.

Following our initial conversation I will send you a Baptism Form and various other bits of information.  It is helpful if you can return the Baptism Form as soon as possible, as one of the members of the Mothers’ Union writes out all the greetings cards, godparent prayer cards, and baptism candle boxes.

The information on the Baptism Form is recorded in the Baptism Register.

To be baptised is a holy, sacred, special thing.  In the case of infant baptism you are asking for your child to become a member of the family of God.  As an adult, you are answering God’s call on your life as you ask to become a member of God’s family.  It is a great joy to be a part of your being incorporated (made a member of the people of God, the Body of Christ).

Hopefully the information on the following pages helps you think through what is happening at baptism and, if you are parents of an infant this information is intended to help you think through the responsibility you are taking on as you seek baptism for your child.  It is essential that you encourage a child’s godparents to read and reflect on this information.

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

BAPTISM : Often called ‘CHRISTENING’

Baptism is a life-changing event that many of us have no memory of.

It is a once-for-all-event.  We only join a family once.

Baptism is: joining the family of God, the Church.

At our baptism God becomes involved in our life in a particular way. If we were baptised as infants then it is parents and godparents who promised – on our behalf – to help us grow up as Christians.

At an infant baptism, parents and godparents promise to help us come to know God through the stories of Jesus and through helping us to learn how to pray.

We come to know the Christian family we belong to by attending a church and we learn about our Christian family tree by learning about the heroic men and women of God through each age.  These ordinary men and women have often led extraordinary and adventurous lives, all because they said “Yes” to the life path God asked them to walk.

It is important that godparents are baptised. Ideally, they should also be confirmed.  To help an infant or a child to grow into a life of Christian faith we really need to be walking the path ourselves. Being a godparent is not guardianship. It is helping a child to grow spiritually, whilst taking an interest in the child’s whole life, and it is praying for the child, for their coming to a real and lively faith in Jesus Christ; praying for the child to come to a point when they can say ‘Yes’ to taking this faith on for themselves at their confirmation.

CONFIRMATION IS: Confirming the promises that parents and godparents made on your behalf.
Questions for prospective godparents to consider:

How will you help someone to grow into something you don’t believe in or are ambivalent towards?

How will you help someone grow up into something that you haven’t grown up into yourself?

If you are asked to be a godparent, and you say “Yes”,how will you fulfil your responsibility to the spiritual maturing of the infant or child?

BAPTISM IS:  A response to God calling people into his family, and God continues to call us to grow,and grow up in his family and in faith.

We do this through getting to know God’s family of today and all our ancestors who make up our family of faith.  We grow as a Christian, a Christ-follower, through being a part of God’s people: praising God, listening to God’s word in the Bible, and praying to God.
St Mary’s has age appropriate groups for infants, toddlers, pre-school children, primary and secondary age young people.  In these groups the young can grow among their peers and be a part of the worship of adults in the faith.

Creche Area in Church: For pre-school children attending the Sunday services with parents and/or grandparents.This is a well resourced area with books, soft toys, drawing and colouring activities.

Sunday Club held in the Parish Centre:  For primary school children with meetings on the first and third Sundays of a month, during the 10.45 am service. Arts, crafts, story and song.  Lots of fun!

Contact: Claire 01257 453989 

Tots’ Praise held in the Parish Centre: For pre-school children and their adults. Held 10:30 – 12:00 on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month.  Children and adults are engaged in a short story, crafts, simple prayers and a song, followed by a free play time with toys. Refreshments are provided for children and adults.

Contact: Maureen 01257 451336

Activity Days: For primary school children.  Organised approximately three times a year – watch out for advertising.  Puppets,art & craft, games, songs, story, food!

Children at the Lord’s Table: A course of six fun lessons preparing children from 8 years upwards in readiness to take communion following a welcoming service in church. The programme runs in the Autumn months with Welcome in January.

Confirmation: For those 14 and above.  An annual course of preparation for young people and adults who wish to confirm their baptismal promises.  The programme runs through the Spring months with a Service of Confirmation in late May.

Contact:Fr. Andrew 01257 452777
Following confirmation various groups are offered. These groups aim to provide support for young people continuing to grow in faith and offer a place where the young people can support one another.

WHY DOES THE CHURCH BAPTISE?  

Christians believe that human beings are made in the image of God.  Human beings are ‘stamped with God’s mark’, our heart bears his imprint, and because of this we can show the qualities of God in our lives.  Because God IS love, we can love.  The Bible tells us:

“Love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God
and knows God…. God is love, and those who abide in
love abide in God, and God abides in them.”
(1 John 4: 7 & 16b)

More than this, Christians believe that God wants to have a relationship with us.  As God and Jesus speak with one another, are in relationship together, God wants to speak with us.  He wants to hear us speak to him of our joys and sorrows, those things which are good in our life and those things which cause us concern or anxiety.  But there is a major difficulty for us as human beings.  At a point in time one man and one woman decided to go their own way, and in doing this they turned from God.  Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, who had been given free will, chose to turn away from God and from goodness.  Their action caused a separation between humanity and God which God has constantly tried to heal over thousands upon thousands of years.

Yes, we human beings have the capacity to love, we have the qualities of God imprinted in our hearts, but we also have a pre-disposition, an inclination, to turn away from God towards those things which are destructive.

We only need to look at the world to see how far things can go wrong.  Sometimes we need only look as far as our own community, our own families, and our own life.  On the world or national stage we may see war, murder, exploitation; but even the best of us can be unkind or selfish.
Things which are damaging or destructive are called ‘sin’.  Those things we say or think or do which harm ourselves or another person, are called ‘sin’.  Those things which we could do for another person or ourselves, which would be helpful, kind, encouraging, and which we leave undone, are ‘sins of omission’.  These things separate us from God.

IT IS THIS SEPARATION, OR IN THE CASE OF AN INFANT, BEING SUBJECT TO SEPARATION, THAT NEEDS SOMETHING TO REPAIR IT.

Christians believe that it was Jesus’ being prepared to be born for us, and more particularly to die for us on the cross, that brought about an end to our being separated from God.

The vertical beam of Jesus’ cross connects heaven and earth; the horizontal beam of the cross reaches out to encompass the world; and the doorway, the way back to God, is provided by Jesus.

BUT WHY BAPTISM?

Baptism is the way we show that we have entered into a new relationship with God.  Baptism is the formal beginning of our life of faith.  It is also a sign of God’s love for us, and our belief in that love.

When an infant is Baptised, parents and godparents – on the infant’s behalf – will say they turn away from their old life of anything which is selfish, damaging or destructive, and they promise to lead a new life following the ways of God.

It is through our reading the stories of Jesus in the Bible that we come to know God.

Jesus came to earth to show us how much God loves us and what God’s nature is.  In seeing how Jesus cared for people, his concern for their health and well-being; in hearing Jesus teach; and in noticing how Jesus encountered people – particularly those who were sick, lost, lonely, down-trodden – we learn of God’s nature and importantly his compassion towards human beings who are struggling in all manner of ways.  We also learn of God’s feelings towards those who are exploiting others, who are being selfish, unkind, and lacking in compassion; all of which offers us lessons to live by, and help us to see the way of life God would direct us in.

We also come to know God through our prayer life.

BAPTISM is a choosing to turn to God, and in baptism a channel opens up through which we have direct access to God.  This channel is like a telephone line through which we can have our conversations with God: speaking to him, but also listening to him.  Sometimes this line clogs up with static: those things which are ‘sin’, and we appear to be separated once more from God, but the line clears instantly as we can turn and turn and turn again to God with our day-to-day sins and say ‘sorry’.

Baptism washes away sin, and the new relationship we enter in to with God provides us with a way back to God each and every time we fall.  We can never have too many fresh starts with God.

In the Book of Deuteronomy God instructs his people to teach children of his ways.  “You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead.  Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.  (Chapter 11: 18-21, 26-28)   This instruction tell us that our teaching about God should be a natural part of our every day.

THE SERVICE OF HOLY BAPTISM
Greeting: 

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. And also with you

Introduction:

Our Lord Jesus Christ has told us that to enter the kingdom of heaven we must be born again of water and the Spirit, and has given us baptism as the sign and seal of this new birth. Here we are washed by the Holy Spirit and made clean. Here we are clothed with Christ,dying to sin that we may live his risen life. As children of God, we have a new dignity and God calls us to fullness of life.
A reading from the Bible:

A short address:

PRESENTATION OF THE CANDIDATES:

Addressing whole congregation:

Faith is the gift of God to his people. In baptism the Lord is adding to our number those whom he is calling. People of God, will you welcome these children and uphold them in their new life in Christ?
With the help of God, we will.

Addressing parents and godparents:

Parents and godparents, the Church receives these children with joy.  Today we are trusting God for their growth in faith. Will you pray for them, draw them by your example into the community of faith and walk with  them in the way of Christ?
With the help of God, we will.

In baptism these children begin their journey in faith. You speak for them today.  Will you care for them, and help them to take their place within the life and worship of Christ’s Church?
With the help of God, we will.

DECISION:  

Addressing children through parents and godparents

In baptism, God calls us out of darkness into his marvellous light.  To follow Christ means dying to sin and rising to new life with him.  Therefore I ask:

Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?
I reject them
Do you renounce the deceit and corruption of evil?
I renounce them
Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?
I repent of them

The above three questions ask us to turn from all that is dark, destructive, and damaging to ourselves and to others. To turn from all that is not good for us.

Do you turn to Christ as Saviour?
I turn to Christ
Do you submit to Christ as Lord?
I submit to Christ
Do you come to Christ, the way, the truth and the life?
I come to Christ

These questions ask us if we trust in Jesus Christ saving us from being separated from God by his death on the cross. Christians believe Jesus Christ is the Lord of the whole earth, will we listen (submit) to him?  Will we follow him in all things?  A life changing decision.

SIGNING WITH THE CROSS:
In oil, on the forehead:

Christ claims you for his own.
Receive the sign of the cross.

Do not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified.
Fight valiantly as a disciple of Christ against sin, the world and the devil, and remain faithful to Christ to the end of your life.

May Almighty God deliver you from the powers of darkness, restore in you the image of his glory, and lead you in the light and obedience of Christ.  Amen

PRAYER OVER THE WATER:

(The water used at baptism is ordinary tap water).

Over the water we say a prayer of blessing asking God to set it apart as holy, for the purpose of baptism.

As we pray over the water, we remember God’s faithfulness to his
people throughout the generations. We remember how God has
been with his people through their trials, and brought them to new
life in new places, where their mourning has turned to joy.

Praise God who made heaven and earth, who keeps his promise forever.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give him thanks and praise

We thank you, almighty God, for the gift of water to sustain, refresh and cleanse all life.

Over water the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation. Through water you led the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the promised land. In water your Son Jesus received the baptism of John and was anointed by the Holy Spirit as the Messiah, the Christ, to lead us from the death of sin to newness of life. We thank you, Father, for the water of baptism. In it we are buried with Christ in his death. By it we share in his resurrection. Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, in joyful obedience to your Son, we baptise into his fellowship those who come to him in faith.

Now sanctify this water that, by the power of your Holy Spirit, those to be baptised may be cleansed from sin and born again.

Renewed in your image, may they walk by the light of faith and continue for ever in the risen life of Jesus Christ, Our Lord; to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be all honour and glory, now and for ever. Amen

PROFESSION OF FAITH:

Addressing congregation:

Brothers and sisters, I ask you to profess together with these children the faith of the Church.

Do you believe and trust in God the Father?

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

Do you believe and trust in his Son Jesus Christ?

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven; he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again to judge the living and the dead. 

Do you believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit?

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen

BAPTISM:

Pouring water over each child:

N, I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

May God, who has received you by baptism into His Church, pour upon you the riches of his grace, that within the company of Christ’s pilgrim people you may daily be renewed by his anointing Spirit, and come to the inheritance of the saints in glory. Amen

A white garment may be wrapped around the child to symbolise the child having put on the pure nature of Jesus Christ.

It is into this nature that the child is to be encouraged to grow.

You have been clothed with Christ.

As many as are baptised into Christ have put on Christ.
COMMISSION:

N, today God has touched you with his love and given you a place among his people. God promises to be with you in joy and in sorrow, to be your guide in life, and to bring you safely to heaven.

In baptism God invites you on a life-long journey. Together with all God’s people you must explore the way of Jesus and grow in friendship with God, in love for his people, and in serving others.

With us you will listen to the word of God and receive the gifts of God.

THE INTERCESSIONS:

(Prayers for the child and their family)

Let us pray for grace in guiding these children in the way of faith.

Faithful and loving God, bless those who care for these children and grant them your gifts of love, wisdom and faith. Pour upon them your healing and reconciling love, and protect their home from all evil. Fill them with the light of your presence and establish them in the joy of your kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

We pray for the children that they become all they have it within
them to become. And we thank you for the gift you bestow on each
one of them today.

We pray for your church, that as it rejoices in this day, it never fails
in its task of welcome and nurture.

And now I invite you to join with me in saying the prayer our Saviour, Jesus Christ, taught us:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory,

for ever and ever. Amen

WELCOME AND PEACE:

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism:

N, by one Spirit we are all baptised into one body.

We welcome you into the fellowship of faith;

we are children of the same heavenly Father;

we welcome you.

We are all one in Christ Jesus. We belong to him through faith, heirs of the promise of the Spirit of peace.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

And also with you

BLESSING:

May the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, establish, strengthen and settle you in the faith; and may the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always. Amen.

GIVING OF LIGHTED CANDLE:

This candle is to be lit at the baptism party and each year on the anniversary of baptism.

God has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and has given us a place with the saints in light.

You have received the light of Christ; walk in this light all the days of your life.

Shine as a light in the world to the glory of God the Father.

DISMISSAL:

Go in the light and peace of Christ.

Thanks be to God
THE SYMBOLISM OF BAPTISM:

A SYMBOL REPRESENTS SOMETHING ELSE. A MATERIAL OBJECT MAY HELP US TO REMEMBER SOMETHING WHICH IS NOT VISIBLE.

WATER: Is used because of its quality of cleansing, washing away; its being necessary for life; and its being restorative.

Water washes away all that stops us from restoring our relationship with God. It makes us pure, as we were before Adam and Eve decided – for all humanity – to turn away from God.

Water also refreshes us, as when we drink a glass of water on a hot day. Water continues to sustain us throughout our life. In baptism we start our life again, restored, renewed, refreshed.

Water can also be dangerous and causes many deaths. So in baptism water is also a symbol of drowning, or burial, and it is linked with Jesus’ death. The prayer which the priest says over the water contains these words: “We thank you, Father, for the water of baptism. In it we are buried with Christ in his death.”

In baptism we speak of the end of our old life and the beginning of a new one, just as though we have died and been born again. The priest, referring to the water of baptism, says: “Through it (the water) we are reborn by the Holy Spirit.” The priest then asks that God sanctify (make holy) the water so that those being baptised may be ‘cleansed from sin and born again’.

Baptism is about a definite turning from the old life to the new life in such a way that what is past is absolutely left behind, and looking forward we follow Jesus and find out what God desires for our life as we walk, talk, and listen to him. Those who bring infants and children for baptism are saying they will encourage this in the children’s lives, until they are old enough to begin to stand on their own two feet with God’s Son as their guide.

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS: Is made on our forehead, generally in oil.
This sign marks us out as belonging to God’s Son, Jesus Christ, forever. It is like invisible ink which God sees by the light of Christ.

The reason for the sign of the cross is because it was through Jesus’ death on the cross that the price was paid for all humanity’s wrong choices. Through Jesus’ death on the cross these wrong choices could no longer spoil our relationship with God. Through our baptism we become people of God.

The sign of the cross is made in OIL, the reason, from Old Testament times oil has had a special meaning.

In the story of Noah’s Ark when the rain stopped, Noah sent out a dove. It returned with an olive branch. The dove is a bird of peace. From olive trees comes olive oil. Oil is a sign of peace. The Flood was a response to the destruction on earth at the time, a result of the separation between humanity and God. The dove and the olive became signs of the peace which was then to exist, in permanence, between God and his people. Never again would God’s anger be kindled against humanity, but he would find a way for his peace to
flow on earth.

In the Old Testament of the Bible, anointing with oil was a sign that the person was to be a person of peace, that they would unite people and bring peace. The Holy Spirit, which enters our hearts at baptism, and which is stirred up in a special way at confirmation, is symbolised by the dove, and has qualities which are the same as oil. The Holy Spirit burns hot; gives us light to live by; helps our relationship with God to work. A characteristic of the Holy Spirit is that of peace. As baptised people of God we are to be people ofpeace. We are to help unite and reconcile others. We are to work for peace, just like the one we follow: Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

THE LIGHTED CANDLE: Is a reminder that through our baptism we have passed from a dark world, where sin rules, to a world of light where we are accepted as we really are – warts and all – and where we can find forgiveness for our sins through Jesus.

We do not need to work at being good enough to be baptised.

We can be baptised with many warts and hearts full of weeds. It is the work of the Holy Spirit – which works in our hearts – to transform our thinking, speech, and actions, so we show more love and more light TO the world. It is the Holy Spirit who helps us to grow into the image of God which is already imprinted in our hearts.

The lighted candle is also a symbol of the Light of the world, Jesus.
It is a symbol of the Light of Christ.

THE SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP

At baptism, God and the new Christian are committed to each other in a special relationship. In effect, a contract is drawn up between the two, rather like the ‘contract’ made in a marriage, where each promises to love and cherish the other. In the Old Testament such ‘contracts’, or ‘covenants’, were drawn up between people to establish a new relationship between them.

A ‘covenant’ is an agreement made between equals.

In the Old Testament (and in baptism) a contract is made where God becomes the God of an individual or a nation, and they become his people. God chooses to make himself equal to those he has created, and each party to the contract then makes promises to the other.

Pick up a Bible in modern language and read the following:

Genesis 22: 1-18 Abraham

Genesis 9: 8-17 Noah

Genesis 28: 10-22 Jacob

Exodus 3 and 4 Moses

At the baptism of a child the parents and godparents make a similar contract with God, but in this case on behalf of the child.

The baptism is carried out because of the faith of the parents and godparents.

Parents and godparents promise to pray for the child, and to draw the child by their own life and example into the worship of the Church. At baptism, the parents and godparents of a child and any adults who are baptised, choose to connect themselves with Jesus Christ.

From now on, we are to live a new life, following the commandments of God:

1 I am the Lord your God: you shall have no other gods but me

2 You shall not make for yourself any idol

3 You shall not dishonour the name of the Lord your God

4 Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy

5 Honour your father and your mother

6 You shall not commit murder

7 You shall not commit adultery

8 You shall not steal

9 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour

10 You shall not covet anything which belongs to your neighbour
THOUGHTS ON BAPTISM:

Before I was made, God loved me

When I was born, God loved me

Now I am here, God loves me

For ever and ever, God loves me

Piper, S & Kolanovic, D (2006) My Baptism Book,

Oxford, Lion Hudson plc. pp 6, 7

I am baptised to show that I am truly a child of God

I am baptised to show that I truly want to follow Jesus

I am batpised to show that I want God’s Holy Spirit to be my friend and helper

Piper, S & Kolanovic, D (2006) My Baptism Book,

Oxford, Lion Hudson plc. p13

 

We can do no great things, only small things with great love.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta in:

Piper, S & Kolanovic, D (2006) My Baptism Book,

Oxford, Lion Hudson plc. p23

May my hands be helping hands For all that must be done, That fetch and carry, lift and hold And make the hard jobs fun May my hands be clever hands In all I make and do With bricks and blocks, with sand and clay, With paper, paint and glue May my hands be gentle hands And may I never dare To poke and prod and hurt and harm But touch with love and care

Piper, S & Kolanovic, D (2006) My Baptism Book,

Oxford, Lion Hudson plc. p24

 

I will love God with all my heart

I will love God with all my soul

I will love God with all my strength

 

From Deuteronomy 6: 5 in:

Piper, S & Kolanovic, D (2006) My Baptism Book,

Oxford, Lion Hudson plc. p26

 

Christmas is the time

when angels open the gates from heaven to earth:

I want to welcome heaven into my life

Easter is the time

when angels open the gates from earth to heaven:

I want to follow Jesus into God’s Kingdom

 

Piper, S & Kolanovic, D (2006) My Baptism Book,

Oxford, Lion Hudson plc. p51

 

Let the Spirit come

like the winds that blow:

take away my doubts;

help my faith to grow.

Let the Spirit come

like a flame of gold:

warm my soul within;

make me strong and bold.

 

Lois Rock in:

Piper, S & Kolanovic, D (2006) My Baptism Book,

Oxford, Lion Hudson plc. p53

 

Spirit of God put love in my life

Spirit of God put joy in my life

Spirit of God make me good

Spirit of God make me kind

 

From Galatians 5 in:

Piper, S & Kolanovic, D (2006) My Baptism Book,

Oxford, Lion Hudson plc. p54

 

May my life shine

like a star in the night,

filling the world

with goodness and light

 

From Philippians 2 in:

Piper, S & Kolanovic, D (2006) My Baptism Book,

Oxford, Lion Hudson plc. p55

 

SOURCES:

Swain, S (2008) Confirmation Book for Adults

London, SPCK. PP. 12-23

(1998) Common Worship Initiation Services,

London, Church House Publishing

Piper, S & Kolanovic, D (2006) My Baptism Book,

Oxford, Lion Hudson plc.

PP. 6, 7, 13, 23, 24, 25, 51, 53, 54, 55

 

To mark this special occasion – Floodlighting the Tower or Floral display

To say “Thankyou” for the birth of a child you may wish to make a donation contributing towards a flower arrangement or the floodlighting of the church tower to mark and celebrate this event.

Mrs Pat Lee, who heads up the team of flower arrangers at St Mary’s, suggests that it is possible to have a window at St Mary’s where a small arrangement or simple vase of flowers can be displayed.

Personally, I know that the arrangers at St Mary’s are faithful and considerate women who hold in prayer those who they are creating arrangements for. They enjoy celebrating the joys of people’s lives and they show concern for those who are experiencing sorrow.

On a practical note, flowers are NOT displayed in church during Advent (the season of preparation for Christmas) and Lent (the season of penitence and preparation for Easter).

Donations for flowers are always welcomed for the festivals of Christmas, Easter, Harvest, All Souls (2 November), and Remembrance Sunday (around 11 November). These festivals are celebrated or marked, in part, through a profusion of floral displays.

 

To discuss donations for flowers please contact:Mrs Pat Lee 01257 452628

To light up the tower use the website booking system or complete a form found at the back of church.