Christening, Baptism or What?

‘I’d like to get my baby done, Vicar!’ has been a very common request in parishes up and down the country. That request still goes on though I have to say in general people today will use the word Christening or Baptism. Many people, whether they regularly attend church or not, are still requesting something special in their children’s early life by asking for a Christening (or Baptism) the words are interchangeable.

At St Andrew’s and St Luke’s we are taking a fresh look at the best way in which to respond to these requests and help the parents and their families understand the implication of what they are entering into. In the Bible, baptism was clearly seen as a personal and public declaration, by adults, of their own desire to be a committed Christ-follower.

The Anglican Church has adopted the practice of not only baptising adults, but also their children, on the understanding that these children are brought up and nurtured to be Christ-followers.
Right at the beginning of the Baptism service we read the words:-
Children who are too young to profess the Christian faith are baptised on the understanding that they are brought up as Christians within the family of the church. As they grow up, they need the help and encouragement of that family, so that they learn to be faithful in public worship and private prayer, to live by trust in God and come to confirmation.

The implication of this paragraph is that whole families together will be involved in the regular worshipping life of the local church, so that the children understand better what it means to be a Christian, a Christ-follower.

In my experience, not just here in our two villages, but in most of the parishes I’ve ministered in, as a rule, this does not happen. One approach we could take is to say, Baptism, particularly infant Baptism, isn’t achieving what it sets out to achieve, therefore we’ll only baptise adults who show a real personal desire and commitment to becoming Christ-followers! However, our desire as churches is to discover, with you, how we can make the best sense of the Baptism promises that are made by, or on behalf of, those brought for Baptism.

You see, the baptism event is in itself symbolising the beginning of a life-long spiritual journey with other Christ-followers. So we would value your help as we seek the most effective way of journeying together into a deeper relationship with Christ. It makes little sense to baptise if there is no desire or real commitment to develop one’s relationship with Christ Jesus. How can we effectively nurture you and your children in growing as Christ-followers? It’s like joining a Gym or Golf Club then not going anywhere near it. You’ll not develop you expertise or get the benefits unless you do!!

We’d love you to join us on Monday 24th April, 7.30 pm in St Andrew’s Church so that we can together find the best way of fulfilling the baptism promises we make for ourselves and our children.

Easter Blessings & happy journeying to you all!
Mark East, Priest-in-Charge.

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One thought on “Christening, Baptism or What?

  1. Arkangel Post author

    As I was reading Matthew 3:11ff – the Baptism of Jesus, the thought occurred to me about why Jesus was baptised at 30 years old. What did this mean? Many Bible commentators will talk about the significance of Jesus through his baptism identifying with us in our need for being brought into a living relationship with God. But I’m wondering if it’s more than that. Jesus is just about to be sent out into a new calling – therefore it is significant that a) he’s empowered with the Holy Spirit to carry out that commission, and b) His Father is affirming his relationship with his Son “This is (You are) my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased.”
    It seems to me that one of the most significant things that can happen to us is to be affirmed by God as being special. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, that realisation of affirmation begins to take place. What a gift.
    So, Jesus baptism was both his public declaration to be his Father’s willing servant, but also his Father’s public declaration of his beloved Son.
    Perhaps we can also make the link in Jesus early life with the persentation in the Temple when he was 8 days old – could that be like infant baptism that many of us have been through? The when he was in his early teens at his ‘Bar Mitzvah’ when he stayed behind in the Temple – could that be like our early teens confirmation? If so, do we also when the time is right and we are able to do so, make some form of adult and public declaration of our willingness to serve our Father, and be empowered by the Holy Spirit to do so, and also to know the Father’s affirmation of us?

    Somethings to ponder when debating infant baptism and our need for total immersion by God’s Holy Spirit.

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