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Who can be Baptised?
In the Anglican Church there is no age requirement for a person to be baptised. Mostly itís infants who are baptised, but it can happen at any age. Many adults seek baptism, too. Jesus was baptised in the river Jordan and told his friends to baptise others. So baptism has always been a sign of and a way of becoming a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ.
At first, baptism was normally for adults. It came to take place on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Day. People were prepared for baptism by being taught the basics of Christian belief. Reminded of the Good Friday story of Crucifixion, they repented of their sins and were assured that God forgave them. In baptism, they were received into the Church with all the joy of the Resurrection. Baptisms often took place in a river. The new Christians were dipped under the water, marking their death to an old way of life, and lifted up again as a sign of new birth.
Today baptisms normally take place at the font in the local church. The font, near the main door of the church symbolises baptism as the way in to membership of the Church.
ďChrist claims you for his own.Ē
The priest uses these words as he makes the sign of the Cross on the forehead of a candidate for Baptism. Itís important to take this seriously: for the one who is baptised, this is something that can never be repeated - Baptism is about membership of the Church, and marks the start of a life-long journey of faith; for parents and godparents there needs to be a recognition of the duties they take on when they bring children to Baptism.
Thereís a reminder of this in the course of the service.....
ďAs they grow up, children will need the help and encouragement of the Christian community, so that they may learn to know God in public worship and private prayer, follow Jesus Christ in the life of faith, serve their neighbour after the example of Christ, and in due course come to confirmation.
ďAs part of the Church of Christ, we all have a duty to support them by prayer, example and teaching. As their parents and godparents, you have the prime responsibility for guiding and helping them in their early years. This is a demanding task for which you will need the help and grace of God....Ē
Supporting Each Other
Baptism celebrates the new life we see in the gift of a child. But itís more than simply a family event. We hope lots of family and friends will come with you to celebrate the Baptism of your child at St. Cuthbertís. But Baptism is also about entry into a new family - a community of faith. In this community there are responsibilities all round...
The Church has responsibilities
- the congregation is asked:
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?
So you will always find a welcome in St. Cuthbertís - not our church but your church. Thereís a special childrenís area in church if you find it useful; and Sunday School from the age of three with provision for older children.
Parents & godparents for their part are asked:
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?
And youíre reminded...
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 Christís Church?
To all these questions the reply is made
With the help of God, we will.
The Church's View
From the introduction to the Baptism Service. You can read the service for yourself on the Church of England's web-site. Still better, come and experience it as part of our on-going offering of worship.
Baptism marks the beginning of a journey with God which continues for the rest of our lives, the first step in response to Godís 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 Christís death for us. Our Ďdrowningí in the water of baptism, where we believe we die to sin and are raised to new life, unites us to Christís 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, as Jesus was at his 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 Godís love.
Jesus said,ĎI came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.í (John 10.10)
What does it Cost?
We get asked this question a lot....
The answer is that there is no charge or fee for Baptism. Baptism speaks to us of Godís freely-given love, which cannot be bought or earned. Godís love is shown above all by his gift of his Son for the life of the world. His love is so great that he can let Jesus go to the Cross. This is something that we canít make a charge for!
And itís also something not to take lightly. Thereís no charge for Baptism, but there is a cost - the Cost of Discipleship. Bringing a child to Baptism is a sign that you want them to enter upon a life-long journey of faith. That means readiness to learn, a desire to worship, and a willingness to pray. The journey of faith can be hard work.
Committed members of our church are regular in their giving to support the church and its work - without committed financial giving we would not be here. We can let you know how to join in effective regular giving with our stewardship envelopes or by Bankerís Order. For a one-off gift as a sign of thankfulness, you might like to think of how much you would pay for the call-out charge of someone providing a household service. But this is not something that weíre selling - and no one should feel there is a prescribed amount to pay.
You should be comfortable about what you want to do. If you don't already attend church, come along to one of our regular services. The 10a.m. Eucharist is our main service - and the one which families most attend.
Get in touch with us to talk about Baptism - or other ways of celebrating the birth of a child.
Or you may want to think about Baptism / Confirmation for yourself. It's not just something for children...
Phone the Vicar on 01207 503019, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
May God, who has received you by baptism into his Church, pour upon you the riches of his grace, that within the company of Christís pilgrim people you may daily be renewed by his anointing Spirit,and come to the inheritance of the saints in glory. Amen.