Baptism marks 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 parents, godparents and sponsors, 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. Hearing and doing these things provides an opportunity to remember our own baptism and reflect on the progress made on that journey, which is now to be shared with this new member of the Church.
The service paints many vivid pictures of what happens on the Christian way. There is the sign of the cross, the badge of faith in the Christian journey, which reminds us of Christ’s death for us. Our ‘drowning’ in the water of baptism, where we believe we die to sin and are raised to new life, unites us to Christ’s dying and rising, a picture that can be brought home vividly by the way the baptism is administered. Water is also a sign of new life, as we are born again by water and the Spirit. This reminds us of Jesus’ baptism. And as a sign of that new life, there may be a lighted candle, a picture of the light of Christ conquering the darkness of evil.
Everyone who is baptized walks in that light for the rest of their lives. As you pray for the candidates, picture them with yourself and the whole Church throughout the ages, journeying into the fullness of God’s love.
How do I go about arranging for a Baptism?
The first point of contact is the Rector (Rev Kevin Brew 8323019, firstname.lastname@example.org ) He will discuss with you the details of the service and what is entailed.
What is entailed?
Baptism is more than just naming your child. Baptism is a sacrament of welcome and inclusion. Just as your child has been welcomed into your family so in Baptism the child is welcomed into the Body of Christ, the family of the Church.
Parents and Godparents for their part are asked to provide an environment within which their child is being brought up is one in which the values of the Gospel are upheld; that they will encourage their child to enter into the life of the Church.
What are the promises that are made?
The promises are essentially those of Confirmation, which you will make on behalf of your child. In baptism, God calls us from darkness into his marvelous 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 proud 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.
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.
A former Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey described these promises as a ‘yard stick for life’. They represent values that we would like to see our children adopt for themselves. I always see these as questions of people on a journey, not questions of those who have already arrived. I can say with integrity that I reject the devil but at the same time realise that in my darker times evil still has its hold on me. Likewise I submit to Christ – but that is still a work in progress. The journey of faith is a journey of a lifetime and hopefully, at each stage, we are growing and maturing in that faith.
When is a baptism normally held?
Because Baptism is about welcoming your child into the family of the Church it is far better if the family of the Church is present. For this reason, in the Parish of Howth, Baptism is normally celebrated in the context of our principal Sunday Service.
What age should my child be?
That is entirely a matter for the family and will vary with family circumstances. I have baptised a child less than a month old and I have baptised a man who was 67!