The birth of a baby is a momentous event and you need to mark it with something more than a slice of cake. Throughout the centuries, people have brought their children to church to be christened and this hallowed building and the ceremony of baptism have provided an appropriate way of saying that the arrival of this child is not just another mouth to feed, but an important spiritual event, which has a meaning both for the family and the community. And it provides a natural way of saying thanks and expressing our joy at the new arrival.
New born babies have tremendous potential. Who knows what they grow up into? A great musician or athlete? Or a scientist or a politician? But christening a baby is a way of saying that whether this baby will grow up to be great or just ordinary, what we hope is that it will be on the side of the angels. It is given to few to be great, but it is given to all to try to be good.
But if this wish is to be meaningful, it implies some commitment from the babies parents and family. Children need to be taught to be good and without that commitment from those around them, their path to goodness will be much harder.
So we ask parents and godparents to make a commitment to this in the service. The words are as follows:
Do you believe in God the Father, the source and sustainer of life?
Do you believe in God the Son, Jesus Christ, who shared our life and gave himself on the cross to bring us the fullness of God's love and mercy?
Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit, who comes to live in our lives, to inspire and guide and empower us?
And the answer to each of these questions is I believe. The questions of commitment are as follows:
Will you reject all that is evil and try to live according to the example given us in Jesus Christ?
Will you try, like him, to forgive those who wrong you, to put others first and to do what you can for those in need?
Will you try, as Jesus said and did, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength?
Will you encourage your child to grow in this Christian faith and this Christian way of life?
And the answer to each of these questions is, With God's help I will.
If you can make these answers, you will be happy to have your child christened.