Congratulations on the arrival of your child!
You want what’s best for your children – that’s natural.
Thinking about the Baptism of your Child?
When your baby is born you look after all of his or her physical needs – food, warmth and security.
Soon you will provide for your baby’s mental needs – education and life skills.
But human beings are more than body and mind – they have a spirit – the dimension of our humanity by which God reaches us, and we reach out to God.
You are seeking baptism because you care about the spiritual needs of your baby!
God is happy at the birth of your baby – no wonder, because you have just shared in God’s work of creation.
In baptism God and your baby begin a relationship with each other that will last forever.
Baptism is a Sacrament.
Baptism is a gift from Jesus himself:
- he was baptised!
- he told the disciples to go out and baptise people!
In a sacrament there is something we can see – water!
The water also signifies and gives us something we can’t see:
- washing away of sins – that we have already committed or which one day we may commit
- water gives life – we are given new life in the Spirit in baptism
- water helps growth
In baptism we receive what God gave to Jesus at his baptism:
- God washed Jesus with water
- God gave Jesus the Spirit to be with him and to help him in life
- God called Jesus his son and special child
God offers these gifts to those who are baptised, but our faith is important in baptism too:
When an adult is baptised – s/he offers his or her own faith as a response to God’s love.
When a child is baptised:
- you as parents and godparents offer your faith
- the whole community of the Church offers its faith
- we offer the hope that one day your baby will place his or her own faith in Jesus
That’s why parents and godparents make three promises that we hope your baby will one day make. These are the promises:
- to turn to Christ
- to reject evil
- to obey and serve Christ
Your baptismal gifts to your baby:
- to bring him or her up as a Christian in the family of the Church
- the gift of your teaching, your example and your prayers
- the gift of your encouragement in the faith
What better gifts could you give to your baby in life?
If you want to read the Church of Ireland’s Pastoral Introduction to the Service of Baptism you will find it here.
The Customs of Baptism
Water – is the essential symbol of cleansing, new life and growth.
The Holy Trinity – Christian Baptism is always into the name of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The sign of the cross: We are baptised into the death and resurrection of Jesus. In baptism we are marked with the sign of the cross: our badge of faith which we carry for ever. Sometimes oil (blessed by the Bishop on Maundy Thursday) is used, an ancient mark of God’s anointing, protection, strength and blessing.
The lighted candle: Jesus called himself the light of the world. We are reminded that we walk in his light; that he walks with us in light and dark times; and that he wants us to shine as his lights in the world.
The white robe: A custom in the early Church was to put on a new white robe after baptism as a sign that we are new people leading a new life in Christ.
The shell: Sometimes baptism is done with a shell – the sign of pilgrimage. Baptism marks the beginning of our journey of faith.
The people of the Church: Baptism is a public Service so that the newest member can be seen, prayed for, encouraged and welcomed by the whole family of the Church.
Arrangements for baptism should be made with the local rector in your own parish. S/he will discuss a date for the baptism with you. You will find the list of clergy here.
Baptism is a public celebration of the Christian family, and so, generally, it happens at the main Sunday Service. Sometimes there are exceptions to this, and these should be discussed with your rector.
All baptism is Christian Baptism – all of the main Christian churches recognise one another’s baptism.
Once a date has been decided the rector will also arrange to visit you to explain the meaning of baptism and to describe the Service itself. The Church requires the rector to teach the people the meaning of baptism and the responsibilities of those who bring children to be baptised.
The choice of godparents/sponsors is important. They must be baptised Christians and persons of discreet age, and at least two must be members of the Church of Ireland or of a Church in communion with the Church of Ireland. Parents are also sponsors for their own children. Above all they should take the promises seriously and an on-going interest in the spiritual growth and well-being of their godchild.
After the baptism the details are entered in the Register of Baptism. Parents receive the Certificate of Baptism, and godparents receive a card to remind them of their promises and responsibilities.
Parents may make a thank-offering.
Young children are encouraged to come to Church at a young age with their parents.
You will find the list of clergy in your local area here. Remember – do not make plans for the baptism until you have spoken with your local clergy!
The Service of Baptism is found here.