Baptisms and thanksgiving
What is baptism?
Jesus told his disciples to become ‘fishers of men’. Originally, baptism was for adults who had been ‘hooked’ by Christ
The images of fishing and being ‘hooked’ are good descriptions of the followers of Jesus. The first disciples were fishermen. Jesus ‘fed the 5000’ with a miraculous meal of loaves and fishes. The secret sign of the early church was the shape of a fish scratched in the sand outside a house to signify where a gathering of Christians was taking place.
No doubt there was a strong reminder of the imagery of fish when people saw new Christians being baptised and submerged under water and then coming up gasping and spluttering for air. Being submerged was for adults a new birth, the turning over of a new leaf. Baptism helped lift people’s eyes from old,
self-centred ways and, instead, focus on Christ and the coming of God’s kingdom on earth. The prayers and rites of the baptism service used today have been handed down over 2000 years.
Because baptism is about birth into a new life with God, it became the custom for babies and children to be baptised too. A shell was often used to pour the water as they were used by pilgrims as simple drinking cups. In this way, shells remind us that following Christ is a journey, both the journey of a lifetime and a journey that lasts a lifetime ‐ and beyond.
Embarking on the journey of faith is an act of trust and we need a guide. Jesus said ‘I am the light of the world’ and for this reason a candle symbolises Christ as that light leading the way. Each one of us is known and loved individually by God.
There is a lovely passage in the Book of Isaiah where God says ‘I will never forget you my people, I have carved your name on the palm of my hand.’ The baptism candidate is named and so marked by God as water is poured over the head in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Having been washed, newly baptized children are often wrapped in a shawl. For centuries shawls have symbolised the universal embrace in prayer by an inclusive, unconditionally loving, God.
The newly baptised is not only named and held in prayer by God but is also anointed with oil as a sign of all the good things that God has given us. Oil is also a promise that we will all share in the kingdom of heaven
Who can get baptised?
In accordance with Church of England practice, anyone who lives in the parish or who is, or intends to become, a regular worshipper is welcome for baptism.
Usually older children and adults seeking baptism are encouraged to explore a combined baptism and confirmation.
Infant baptisms take place on set Sundays, usually after the main morning service, at 12.30 pm.
Services of Thanksgiving
If you are not yet ready to be baptised or to baptise your child then we are very happy to meet with you to discuss holding a service of Thanksgiving for the birth of a child in church.
For more information please contact a member of the Ministry Team or Jan Andrews, our Baptisms, Thanksgivings and Weddings coordinator.