Baptism is a joyful celebration of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and of the promises of God to us, promises of grace and reconciliation in Jesus Christ our Lord. At Craiglockhart we celebrate the baptism of children and adults and if you would like to find out more about baptism or a service of thanksgiving following the birth of a child please contact Gordon Kennedy – firstname.lastname@example.org
The following notes are a brief attempt to describe Christian baptism and our practice at Craiglockhart.
In the Church we recognise baptism as a sacrament, a visible sign of the reality of the gospel. Baptism is a symbol of our being united with Christ through faith in the gospel and our desire to live a new life in Christ as his disciples.
In baptism we ask either those being baptised, or the parents of children being baptised, to take three vows which express our understanding of the response we are making to God in baptism. It is helpful to remember that in getting married a couple take vows to one another and no one else, in baptism vows are made to God and are consequently of a higher order than other vows or promises. This is why in the church we look for one or both parents to be members of the church and in regular contact with a Christian congregation so that we might offer support and help to parents in keeping this baptismal vows.
The baptismal vows, with a brief explanation are:
First question to parents.
Do you present this child to be baptised, earnestly desiring that, in His own appointed time, the Holy Spirit will effectually work in this child's life all that is meant and signified by Christian baptism?
Answer: We do.
In this vow we express our desire to have our children baptised and that in this we are seeking God’s presence and saving work for our children.
Christian baptism is a symbol of our being united with Christ in his death and his resurrection, we read this in the letter to the Romans 6:3-4
Romans 6:3-4 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
All humans live lives filled with sin against God and against one another, it is to this old life of sin that we must die together with Christ. We enter into a union with Christ on the cross so that by faith we see our old sinful life put to death. Having been united with Christ in his death we are also united with Christ in his resurrection. Once our old way of life is dead we are set free to live a new life, the new life of Christian discipleship, through faith in Christ Jesus.
In baptism of our children we are humbly asking our God to do this saving work of uniting our children to Christ in his death and resurrection that they might become new people in Jesus and live a new life in him.
Second question to parents.
Do you profess your faith in God, the Father who created you, Jesus Christ who has redeemed you, and the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you?
Answer: I do.
This question asks about our faith. Christians do not simply believe in God, very specifically we believe in the one God who has created everything and has made himself known to us as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; we believe in that same Jesus Christ as God who alone has died for our salvation and apart from whom there is no salvation for any man or woman; we believe in God the Holy Spirit who is given to us by the Father and the Son that the power of God might be at work within us, enabling us to live as Christian people and apart from whom we cannot be savingly united to Christ.
Third question to parents.
Do you promise, in dependence upon God's promised help, by your prayers, teaching, and example, to bring up your child in the nurture and admonition, the love and discipline of the Lord?
Answer: I do
This third question is the promise made by parents at baptism. The effect of the final part of the promise is that we are promising to bring up our children to be Christian people. We are promising to do this in three ways:
by our prayers – for our children as we pray day by day, by praying with our children and teaching them to pray;
by our teaching – with our children teaching them of Christ and God’s love for us all in the gospel, by taking our children with us to church, Sunday school;
by our example – children are great copy cats, and the two people they copy most are mum and dad, as our children see us, day by day, living Christian lives, serving Christ, being part of his church, so they will naturally grow up to copy us and follow our example of faithful Christian living.
The above is a brief attempt to explain what is meant by Christian baptism and the commitment parents enter into when they bring their children for baptism.
In the church we have what is called a service of thanksgiving, or blessing. In this service families are welcomed into the church and prayers are offered to God for the family; giving thanks for the delivery of a new baby and praying for God’s blessing upon the family in their life together.
There are no questions asked or promises required of parents coming with children for services of thanksgiving.
An increasing number of families are finding that a service of thanksgiving is closer to where they are in their life and commitment to the church. There is a desire to give thanks for the birth of a child and a longing for God to be at work in the life of the family, but the commitment of baptism is one which some parents feel is not for them, or not for them at this time. If parents come with children for a service of thanksgiving this does not prevent them returning with children for baptism, or the child themselves coming for baptism at any later time.