The beginning of any journey calls for preparation on a number of levels. There are bound to be questions across the board:
Why am I asking for baptism for myself or for my child?
What do I believe?
What is expected of me when I receive baptism?
We don’t want life’s great call, the most exciting adventure in life, to look like something routine, formal or a ‘one off.’ St Patrick’s Church wants to give you all the information you need to consider and discuss so that all the windows and doors of baptism, church and faith are opened up for you to look in and see.
Part of our preparation begins with the ALPHA course. This well-established course provides a solid foundation for discussing and considering the meaning of life and faith.
What is Baptism?
‘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.’ (BCP page 357)
Jesus was baptised in the river Jordan by John and this marked the beginning of his earthly ministry’ (Mark 1:9–11). Near the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry he commanded his disciples to ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’. (Matthew 28:18). For over two thousand years Jesus’ followers have begun their Christian lives with the sacrament of baptism. The water of baptism is a visible sign of the grace which God conveys in the sacrament. God’s gift in baptism is new birth in Christ, a new direction in life as God’s child, and a calling to be a lifelong, faithful disciple of Christ.
What are Godparents/sponsors?
It is both a privilege and a responsibility to be asked to be a godparent (also known as sponsor). The godparent promises to help care for the spiritual welfare of the child. It is important therefore that the godparents can answer honestly the declarations of faith and that they will be committed to supporting and praying for their godchild.y on the eyes and a great go to font for titles, paragraphs & more.
What happens in the Baptism service?
Baptism welcomes the baptised into the Christian family and the congregation promises to support and pray for them and their parents and godparents (or sponsors). Through baptism we are adopted into God’s family and other Christians becomes our brothers and sisters. Therefore, the baptism service ideally takes place when the wider congregation are present. In some situations, or in the case of an emergency baptism, it will be appropriate to have the baptism at another time. At the baptism of infants, parents and godparents are required to make promises on behalf of the child and to undertake to ‘encourage them in the life and faith of the Christian Community’ and to ‘care for them, and help them to take their place within the life and worship of Christ’s Church’ (BCP page 361).
As they are answering on behalf of the child, they must also affirm their own Christian faith. Those being presented for baptism will then have water poured on their heads. Water declares God’s presence in the life of the candidates and signifies that they become God’s adopted children and members of the Church. The sign of the cross is made on the forehead as a visible sign of belonging to Christ: ‘Christ claims you for his own. Receive the sign of the cross. Live as a disciple of Christ’ (BCP page 362). As baptism is the beginning of the Christian life, a lighted candle may be presented with the words ‘You have received the light of Christ; walk in this light all the days of your life. Shine as a light in the world to the glory of God the Father’ (BCP page 367).
What happens after Baptism?
Like every gift we receive in life we have a choice as to how we should use it . After baptism it is the responsibility of the parents, godparents and the wider Church to ensure that each newly baptised child or adult is welcomed and nurtured in the faith as a member of the local and worldwide Christian family. In the fellowship of the Christian community, it is the responsibility of the baptised to make God’s gift in baptism their own by sincere faith and resolute commitment to Christ. Otherwise God’s gift in baptism is not accepted. Baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity does not confer membership of just one denomination, but rather of the whole Christian family.
What about those who are not baptised?
We believe that God loves all His children equally no matter race, creed or colour. We also believe that at the heart of the mission of His Son Jesus Christ was the call to follow Him and that baptism is the mark and seal of responding to this call. Baptism is life’s greatest privilege – how we use it is a great test of life and faith.