Baptism or ‘Christening’ is the beginning of our journey with God, a journey which continues throughout our lives.
It is a sacrament (a holy and visible sign of an invisible reality) in which Christians can experience the healing, forgiving, nourishing, strengthening presence of God that enables them to love in turn. Baptism is the sacrament which gives access to the other sacraments, and is necessary for salvation. Through Baptism, we are freed from sin and reborn as children of God, we become members of Christ, and are incorporated into the worldwide family of his Church.
Baptism comes from a Greek word which means ‘to immerse’, recalling the way in which candidates were originally baptised, by being plunged into flowing water, often a river. Now, it’s more common for the Church to baptise by pouring water over the candidate’s head as they stand (or, in the case of children, are held) over a font. All Christians are baptised in the name of the Trinity, that is, in the name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This visible sign demonstrates what is really happening inside the person: the forgiveness of original and personal sin, re-birth as God’s adopted child, and the imprinting on the soul a new character which enables the person to live the Christian life.
Since Biblical times, both adults and children have been baptised. The Church of England has always understood that, although children might be unable to make any commitment to follow Christ and his teaching themselves, Baptism does not rely on us, but on God’s grace alone, and so that grace is made freely available to anyone of any age.
If you are interested in exploring the sacrament of Baptism, either for yourself or your child, please contact the Vicar.