Baptism

Infant Baptism at St Anne’s Cathedral

First, congratulations on the birth of your child!  As parents you undoubtedly wish everything that is good for your baby.  We at St Anne’s wish to be part of this – in the deepest sense, we believe that in the changing and challenging world in which we live, the Christian life provides stability and hope in the present and for the future. 

Baptism is a first step in the journey to faith.  To have your child baptised is an important first step. Accordingly we encourage you to think through the issues and encourage you to read through the following information carefully.

May God richly bless you as a family.

What is baptism all about?

Baptism is a symbol or signpost, pointing to the really important things in life – issues about forgiveness, the new birth in Christ and eternal life.

Baptism reminds us….

That we need God’s forgiveness...  For example, just as we need water to clean our bodies from dirt, so we also need inner, spiritual washing as well.  As a sign of turning from an old way of life to a new life in Christ, followers of Jesus, from his time on earth to the present, were baptised symbolising forgiveness of our sins by turning to Jesus who died for our sins.  The apostle Peter emphasised this when he wrote that Jesus’ bore our sins in his body on the cross’ (1 Peter 2:24). We are called to admit our need of forgiveness and receive it by faith through Jesus.

That we need new birth… Water also represents someone dying to an old way of life (going under the water) and then being raised to a new life (stepping out of the water). In baptism this symbolically declares an end to a self-centred life – to the beginning of a new life with God at the centre.  Jesus spoke about this when he said that unless a person was ‘born again’ she or he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven (John 3:1-18). To simplify this - we are ‘born again’ when we ask Jesus to forgive us and to come into our lives, allowing Him to change us and discover him as a real person!

How does this relate to my child?

When explaining baptism it might be helpful to think about the image of a cheque.  A cheque is simply a slip of paper that promises a certain amount of money to the payee – the money only becomes yours when you claim it.  The promise to pay then becomes hard cash.

Baptism is a solemn promise from God (who never breaks his promises).  But we need to claim that promise for ourselves.  If we don’t, it’s like a cheque that goes void because it has never been cashed! When we turn to God, asking for forgiveness and inviting Jesus into our lives, we are then claiming for ourselves promises made on our behalf at baptism. So, at baptism, God is making solemn promises of forgiveness and new birth to your child – we pray that later in life your child will cash the cheque and claim the promises for himself/herself.

Requirements of parents and godparents (the child’s sponsors)

As babies can’t commit their own lives to Christ, we pray in faith that they will do so later. However, you cannot help your child to make that commitment, if you have not yet claimed that new life for yourself. Therefore, in baptism service, parents and godparents must affirm their allegiance to Christ and are asked such questions as:

Do you turn to Christ?

Do you then renounce the Devil and all his works?

Will you obey & serve Christ?

How would you answer these questions?

In the years ahead

At baptism a child is welcomed into the family of the Church. This means more than simply giving your child a denominational label. Just as family life requires commitment by parents, membership of the Church family is no different because that also requires a commitment.   A commitment:

to be regular in Sunday worship as a family

to encourage your child to pray and read the Bible.

That is why in the Service parents and godparents are asked:

Will you bring up this Child as a Christian, within the church?

Will you help your child to be regular in public worship and in private prayer?

Will you encourage your child by your teaching, your personal example and by your prayers

Parents’ Prayer

God our Father,

in giving us our child

you have shown us your love.

Help us to be trustworthy parents.

Make us patient and understanding,

that our child will always be sure of our love

and come to know the grace & love

which you have shown us in

Jesus Christ our Saviour and Lord,

Amen.

 

 

 

What to do next?

A member of the Cathedral clergy team will be happy to discuss the issues more fully with you. Please contact the Bursar on 028 9032 8332 or email bursar@belfastcathedral.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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