Infant Baptism or Thanksgiving

Baptism

The birth of a child is a miracle of God's creation and an event we want to celebrate with you as a church. As parents, you seek the very best start for your baby, and baptism offers that start in a spiritual sense.

But it is not a naming or thanksgiving ceremony.

It's much more important than that.

This is such an important step that it is vital to think through the issues carefully.

What’s baptism all about?

When parents ask for baptism for their child, they are taking a very important step. Baptism is a symbol or signpost pointing to the really important things in life such as forgiveness, new birth and eternal life.

Baptism shows...

1. That we need God’s forgiveness

Water is used to symbolise washing. Just as we need water to remove dirt from our bodies, so we need inner, spiritual cleansing. This washing, or forgiveness of our sins, is offered to us by God through the death of His Son Jesus. The apostle Peter tells us that this is possible because Jesus “bore our sins” on the cross. We are called to admit our need of forgiveness and receive it from Jesus.

2. That we need new birth

Water is also used as a symbol in the New Testament (Romans 6:4) to suggest someone dying from an old way of life (going under the water) & then being raised to a new life (stepping out of the water).

Baptism symbolises the end of a self-centred life - in which God is rejected - the beginning of a new life with God at the centre. This shows our need of being ‘born again’ - Jesus says unless a person is born again he/she cannot enter the Kingdom of God...We are born again when we ask Jesus to forgive us and come into our lives. It is a new life to discover him as a real person and to see him change our lives!

What baptism does for your child

Obviously, the ceremony alone cannot make this crucial difference in our lives.

 When explaining baptism, we like the image of a cheque. A cheque is just a piece of paper that promises a certain amount of money - the cash is only yours when you claim it. Then the promise becomes ‘hard cash’. Baptism is a solemn promise from God, who never breaks his promises. But we need to claim his promises for ourselves - or it’s like the cheque that goes void because it’s never been cashed. When we turn to God, asking for forgiveness and inviting Jesus into our lives, we are claiming for ourselves promises made on our behalf at baptism. So, at baptism, God is making solemn promises of forgiveness and new birth to your child - and we pray that later in life he/she will cash the cheque and claim the promises for himself/herself.

  

What we expect of parents and godparents

During the service

As babies cannot turn in faith and repentance to Christ, we pray that they will do so later. However, you cannot help your child to make that commitment, if you have not yet claimed that new life for yourself. Therefore, in this service, parents must affirm their allegiance to Christ & are asked such questions as:

·         Do you turn to Christ?

·         Do you then renounce the Devil and all his works?

·         Will you obey and serve Christ?

How would you answer these questions?

After the service and beyond

At baptism a child is welcomed into the family of the Church. This means more than simply giving the label of 'The Church of Ireland'. The understanding of infant Baptism is that believing parents will witness what they believe to their children. We have to commit to our children as we parent them and membership of the Church family is no different in that it also requires a commitment:

·         to be regular in Sunday worship as a family (a crèche is available, if needed, when Children's Church is running and children 0-3 years can be left from before or during the 11 am service)

·          to bring your child to Children's Church (available from 3 years upwards) so they may learn, in an age-appropriate and fun way, about Christian truths. Children's Church happens during the 11 am service.

·       to encourage your child to pray and read the Bible. 

Therefore in the Service parents are asked: 

·         Will you bring up this Child as a Christian, in the fellowship of the church?

·         Will you help him/her to be regular in public worship and in private prayer, by your teaching, by your example and by your prayers for him/her?

·         Will you encourage him/her to come in due course to Confirmation and Holy Communion?

Godparents

Whilst we recognise that many choose to have family members as godparents, and will see their godchildren regularly, we hope that they will take their role seriously in forming good relationships with their godchildren that not only include presents but prayers and an interest in the developing spiritual life of their godchild. 

Service of Thanksgiving

The Anglican baptism service asks some challenging questions about our belief and commitment - as adults and as parents. On reading through the service, some feel that is exactly what they want to say; others feel they are not yet ready to make such promises with integrity. However they still want to say thank you for the life of their child, and to ask for God's blessing on him or her. 

We offer a service of thanksgiving as a way of doing this. We would be delighted to discuss both baptism and thanksgiving with you.

 

Please contact Canon Henry or Revd Philip.