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Baptism PDF Print E-mail
Written by Paul Cudby   
Tuesday, 19 October 2010 15:57


If you are interested in baptism, also known as christening, for yourself or your child, please contact the vicar. Baptisms take place either during one of the morning services or, if preferred, during the afternoon, normally on a Sunday but we are usually able to accommodate families on other days if weekends are difficult for you. To prepare you for the service the vicar and a baptism visitor will come to meet with you to talk you through the different parts of the service and help you understand what you are committing yourself to.

What is baptism?

Baptism is a sacrament. That means that it is an outward symbol of something that God is doing inside the person being baptised. One way of thinking about it is by comparing it to marriage, which is also a sacrament. When a couple make their vows to each other and exchange rings these are outward and visible signs of what is taking place, that is that God is joining them together so that two become one. If you talk to a couple who have been married for many years they will often tell you about the way they somehow feel linked, knowing each other in a way they can't really explain to anyone who hasn't experienced it. In a similar way baptism is about a person becoming joined to God, and as the years pass and as we put energy into developing that relationship, so we feel more steadily joined to God in a way we can't explain to someone who hasn't been through it. In essence when someone is baptised, something within them is changed by God as they are welcomed into his family through Christ, and we see it as a great privilege to help people come to baptism or to bring their children for baptism.

What do the symbols mean?

The sign of the cross

Near the beginning of the service, after the promises have been made, the person being baptised will be marked with the sign of the cross on their forehead. This is, if you like, a sign of belonging to Christ, of receiving the sign of his cross which was the way through which people like us could be forgiven and meet God on intimate terms as a child to their parent. All baptised Christians carry this mark and in some denominations you will see people mark themselves with the sign of the cross when they come into church. At Tanworth we have a night service each year on Easter Eve when we renew our baptismal vows which includes marking ourselves again with the sign of the cross.

The water of baptism

This is the sacramental part of the service where water is poured over the person's head with the words, 'I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit'. There are two symbols here but only one of them is obvious. The first is the effect of washing with water which symbolises the person being washed clean of all that comes between them and God. The second symbol is more plain in baptism by full immersion. Baptisms are usually carried out by full immersion as a matter of course in the Baptist and Orthodox denominations (and, by arrangement, we can also do this for adults if they choose). The symbolism is deep and takes some thought to process but in essence it is symbolising the person dying with Christ (going under the water) and being born again into new life through the resurrection of Christ (coming up out of the water). Although this symbolism is not quite so clear when we simply pour water over the person's forehead, it is most definitely a part of what takes place in baptism, which is why it is sacramental - that when a person is baptised this dying and rising with Christ is what takes place.

The welcome and peace

After the person has been baptised they are formally welcomed by all those present into the life of the church family. We fully encourage the baptised to begin to take a full part of church life and have services available for all ages, from the new-born to the elderly.

The lit candle

The last part of the service is to give a lit candle to the person who has been baptised, or to a family member on their behalf if they are too young to hold it safely. The lit candle symbolises our belief that the person will shine with the light of Christ, but even more than that, that as a baptised believer, wherever they are, that place will be a little brighter because of the hope and light they will bring to it.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 November 2017 13:05