This is a time of great happiness and joy for you - and a time of great responsibility. Your Child will demand much of you for many years to come, and you will be responsible for the formation of the unique person he or she will one day become.
Part of the growth of your child involves his or her spiritual education and enlightenment. Because Baptism is the beginning of that part of the child’s life, and because it is such an important act with serious consequences both for you as the parents as well as for the child later on, this leaflet has been prepared in order to help you
understand some of these important matters.
Why are children Baptised?
Some parts of the Church do not think that children should be baptised, as they are not able to make their own commitment to God and to His Son. The Anglican Church however accepts that, just as you are able to make important decisions for your child until he or she grows up, so you can choose in their behalf for them to be baptised.
This principle is to be found in the Holy Bible. The Anglican Church also accepts that it is God who brings about the new birth, and he is not limited by the child’s ability to understand the action. He still cares for your son/daughter, and can still work within him/her.
The Symbols Explained
Three important things are used in the baptism ceremony: Water, Oil and a Candle.
Water is the agency of Baptism.
Water not only speaks to us of being cleansed as in washing like with dishes or clothing, but it also speaks to us of dying. We can be drowned in water and die. Dying to the ways of this world and being reborn to the ways of God is of the first importance if any of us are to ever see Heaven.
After he/she is baptised, holy oil is placed on the forehead. From ancient times oil was used to show that the Spirit of God had come upon a person. It was used to anoint kings and priests for the task that they had to perform. We use it for that very same purpose. The oil we use was especially blessed by the Bishop at a Ceremony held in the Cathedral in the week before Easter.
A Candle is the other symbol used at baptism. At Easter a large candle is lit in the Church, and serves as a reminder that Jesus Christ is the light in the dark world that we live in. A smaller candle will be lit from it and given to your child as a reminder that he/she is to share in that light, and reflect it to the world. You should keep it and light it on the anniversary of the baptism as a reminder to him/her of what he/she has a share in through
baptism. Birthday time is also a meaningful time when your child’s baptism candle may be lit with the birthday candles, bringing together the “natural birth” being celebrated with the “spiritual’ birth of baptism.
Sponsors or Godparents are people whom you should be able to call upon to help you with the task of bringing up your child in the way that has been described. They should be people whom you can count on, who have a warm personal interest in their Godchild, and who are faithful believers themselves, having been baptised themselves.
Further Enquiries Fr David will be only too glad to help you with any questions you may have about your child’s baptism, or other matters. Please feel free to call him at any time
What is baptism?
Whilst naming a child is important, Baptism is not a naming ceremony. In St John’s gospel we read the account of a conversation between Jesus and one of the religious leaders of his day, a conversation that had at its heart the whole idea of life and what it is about, especially the idea of being spiritually reborn, or as it is referred to in the gospel being “born from above” or “born again”.
We may understand from what Jesus had to say that we may live life in one of two ways There is the ordinary everyday level on which we live, in which we concern ourselves with nothing more than the business of surviving, that is getting by as best we can.
We can spend our time in the pursuit of material gain, a bigger salary, a bigger car, a bigger house. We may concentrate on this world to the exclusion of all else. But that has its limits. To live that way is in the end to die that way.
Now baptism is about belonging; belonging to Jesus Christ and to his Church. Baptism is a persons rebirth; that is the inner spiritual rebirth or enlightenment of the person concerned.
To be born from above means that we recognise God’s claim on our lives (and he does have one) and to allow his Spirit to have control of our lives. It is he who created the universe in which we live, and all life. He gave his Son to take our place on the cross at Calvary to pay for the sins of every man and woman who has ever lived. He is entitled to our loyalty, our worship, and our commitment to live for him.
We are obliged to give up our selfish ways and recognise his claim on us.
Jesus Christ the divine Son of God became a man, with the same human limitations and frailties as you and I have, except that he had no sin. He lived and died as one of us, and rose from the dead so that we might all be set free from the consequences of sin, so that we might each have the gift of eternal life. Baptism is about sharing in that death, being put in touch with the life-giving power that is available only from Him through his Holy Spirit.
What are your responsibilities in this matter?
A seed is planted at baptism by the action of God’s Spirit, the seed of eternal life; and like all things that are newly planted it will need to be nurtured and encouraged by you who hold responsibility for the upbringing of this child. Whatever is good, right and proper, he/she will learn from you.
You will be responsible for teaching your child Who God is, How to pray to Him, What God expects of your child, How to read the Bible, and to be an active member of the Church.
You can not of course do this on your own, that is why it is important that you have faith, and that you remember that the child will have a place in God’s Church, as do you, and that you should resolve to become a regular member of the local parish church if you are not
Children do not grow up in a vacuum, they inherit their parents standards and beliefs, whether you are aware of that happening or not.
If you think that you can bring your child up without any spiritual or ethical guidance remember this; the world will exert all sorts of pressures upon him/her through such things as TV, radio, newspapers even the Internet. So you the parents have an important task ahead of you.
This is of course something that you will be supported in by those whom you have chosen as godparents, you each share in the responsibility for the spiritual guidance of this child.
Just as you both brought him/her into this world, and have the responsibility of looking after his/her physical needs, so you have the responsibility of providing for his/her spiritual needs.
This is just as important especially when we call to mind the fact that whatever it is that you hold to be important in life will become whatever he/she will hold to be important.