It's easy to think of Baptism as simply a naming ceremony, but in fact is a lot more. Baptism is, in fact, an entry into a Christian life and a response to the goodness which God has shown us. In the Bible, Baptism symbolises us being washed clean from all the bad which we've done and also the start of a new life in Christ. This is such a radical change that St Paul talks about this being like dying and coming to life again.
Obviously babies cannot make a decision like that! That's why when babies are baptised that the parents and the godparents make promises on the child's behalf. It's important that these promises are made by people who mean them, and Godparents must be baptised themselves.
So, baptism is the beginning of a life which is lived with God as the focus. It is an awesome and superb thing!
Who can be a Godparent?
A godparent is someone who represents the family of the church and is responsible for encouraging your child’s growth in faith. It is traditional that you have two godparents who are the same gender as the child and one of the opposite gender, but you can have more depending on what the priest says.
Because the godparents make promises before God on behalf of your child, they have to have been baptised themselves.
What happens in the Service?
A number of important symbols and actions will be used during the service itself:
The sign of the cross - the priest will make the sign of the cross on your child's forehead. This is like an invisible badge to show that Christians are united with Christ and must not be ashamed to stand up for their faith in him.
Anointing - oil is used to make the sign of the cross. This is a sign of the outpouring of God's Holy Spirit, and is a symbol of well being and blessing.
Water - the priest will pour water on your child's head. Water is a sign of washing and cleansing. In baptism it is a sign of being washed free from sin and beginning a new life with God.
Water is a sign of life, but also a symbol of death. When we are baptized, it is as though our old life is buried in the waters and we are raised to new life with Christ.
The welcome – If the baptism takes place in the main Sunday Eucharist the church congregation will say some formal words of welcome to acknowledge that your child has joined the Church and to show how pleased they are to have you among them. Canon Andrew may agree to a separate baptism outside the Eucharist. You will need to speak with him about this.
Candles - Jesus is the Light of the World. A large candle may be lit in the church and you may also be given a lighted candle at the end of the service as a reminder of the light which has come into your child's life. It is up to you, the child's godparents and the church community to help your child reject the world of darkness and follow a way of life that reflects goodness and light.
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