After Jesus had been crucified and raised from the dead, he appeared to his disciples and said, "I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.
Baptism is seen as the initiation into the Christian faith – that is, once a person has realised that Jesus is the son of God and that he died for our sins then decides to turn to Christ and follow his ways, baptism follows. Just as we use water every day for cleansing, so too the water of baptism symbolises the cleansing of sin, a ‘dying’ to the old self and being born again into a new life in Christ.
In the Church of England, it is often the case that a young child, or baby is brought for baptism, and obviously a child does not have the understanding to make such decisions for his/ herself. And so the parents and god-parents make the choice on the child’s behalf, on the basis that they have turned to Christ for themselves. Those bringing the child for baptism promise to pray for the child, teach the child about Jesus and the faith, and encourage their child to be part of the family of God – ie the Church. If a faith in Jesus is real for the parents, then it is more likely to become real to the child as it grows up.
When someone asks about baptism at Emmanuel, we want to ensure that the parent(s) have an opportunity to understand the promises they will be making. We offer a Thanksgiving for the child first – this is simply a chance to say ‘Thank you’ to God for the wonderful gift of this new life, and to pray for God’s help for the family in helping the child grow and develop. This is then followed up with a visit to discuss in more depth baptism and its lifelong promises.
Both the Thanksgiving and the Baptism take place during our normal morning service