Baptism is God’s free gift. But like every gift, it is much better if it’s one you really want. In baptism, parents and godparents have to make some important and sacred promises – so we want you to know what you’re committing yourself to.
It might be that, after reading this, you decide that baptism isn’t what you really want: if that’s the case, then we can discuss other options. It might be that special Service of Thanksgiving, which celebrates and gives thanks for the life of your child is what you have in mind.
Whatever your decision, remember that God already loves your child completely and totally.
So, why do people have their children baptised?
“To give them their names”
Well, you’ve already done that – when you registered their birth. Baptism makes no difference to a child’s name.
“To help them come on better”
Not quite. Baptism isn’t like taking your baby to the clinic for a jab. It’s more to do with how the child grows spiritually – and God needs help from you and the godparents for that.
“Because Grandma/Grandad/Auntie said they should be done”
But they haven’t got to bring them up – you have. And they haven’t got to make the baptism promises – you have!
“To make sure they go to heaven if they die young”
But God loves children whether they have been baptised or not. It makes no difference if a child dies young – God won’t judge them any differently.
“To thank God for their birth (and have a party)” or “To give them a good start in life” or “To ask God’s blessing on them”
Very good ideas, all of them. But you could also do these with a service of Blessing. Baptism is rather different…
“To promise to bring them up as Christians and to ask God to give them not just a good life, but a new life”
Now you’re talking, but what does that mean? Read on…
BAPTISM STANDS FOR FORGIVENESS
It’s a picture of God washing away our sins. None of us are perfect, and as we grow up we go on doing wrong – only we learn better ways of covering it up. So we all need God’s forgiveness.
When Jesus died on the cross, he showed us how much he loved us. This means that we can be forgiven and set free, even though we don’t deserve it! Jesus asks us to admit our need to be forgiven and then receive the free gift of forgiveness from him.
BAPTISM STANDS FOR NEW LIFE
It’s warmer in the land where Jesus lived, so the first Christians were baptised in the running waters of rivers. Coming up out of the water (where there was no light or air), it was as if a whole new life had started. And it’s the same today – it is a spiritual life, with the Holy Spirit of God living in us.
That new life begins when we ask God to forgive us and play a part in our lives. It’s wonderful to discover that he is a real person and to experience the difference he can make to our lives.
Baptism should happen because one or both of the parents want their child to be part of the church family and share the new life that Jesus gives. But if a child is to discover that new life, they need not only to be taught about God and Jesus – they must see what the Christian faith means in action, especially in the lives of their own parents and godparents. Christianity must be taught, but it’s also got to be ‘caught’.
And that’s where the promises come in! At Baptism, parent and godparents promise to live for Jesus themselves, and also to give the child a Christian upbringing.
Here are the words from the service…
Question – Parents and godparents, the Church receives these children with joy. Today you are trusting God for their growth in faith. Will you pray for them, draw them by example into the community of faith and walk with them in the way of Christ? Answer – “With the help of God, we will”
Question – 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? Answer – “With the help of God, we will”
During the service you and the godparents, along with the whole congregation, declare belief in the Christian faith.
So what does all this mean in practice?
Taking the baptism of your child seriously means:
– praying for them and showing them how to pray;
– teaching them what Jesus has done for us, and how we are to live;
– introducing your child to the rest of the Christian family by bringing them to church;
– setting them a good example of Christian living to follow – both at home and church;
– reading bible stories to them – there are lots of good children’s bibles around, and we can help you choose.
The church also takes the promises seriously. At any point after baptism we will be willing to help you teach your child about Christianity. Just ask.
If you would like to know more about Baptism you can call Fr. Owain on (01663) 749323