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In Primary One classes at school, children often have a topic on 'Welcoming a Baby' which may include looking at baptism. God's welcome to each of us is certainly an important part of what baptism means, but there is much more!
In baptism, God gives both a gift and a responsibility. And it's not just for children: both children and adults may be baptised. If you want baptism for yourself or your child, please read the rest of this page and then contact a minister.
Thinking about baptism
Baptism is important because it marks the start of the most important relationship in life, between God and a human being. In any sacrament, there is an outward sign which corresponds to its inward meaning. The sprinkled water carries with it the meaning of cleansing from sin; reminding us that when Jesus was baptised, he identified himself with all human sin and badness. He was sinless but he lived and died on our behalf and, through his obedience to God, our sins and failures are forgiven.
What Jesus did was for the whole of humanity, but as the minister says a name in front of God at baptism it reminds us that God's promise is also to each individual, in whom God's Spirit is planted.
For Christians, there are two basic reasons for this sacrament. First that Jesus Christ accepted baptism by John in the River Jordan; and second, Jesus commanded his disciples to baptise believers. What Jesus accepted we need more deeply; what Jesus commands we are glad to do.
In the church we talk about Baptism rather than 'christening' because it is not a naming ceremony. A child's name is the one chosen by the parents and recorded on the birth certificate.
And there is nothing magical about baptism; it doesn't make us or our children good, or bring them luck, or turn them automatically into Christians. Our God is a God of love who cares for all his children, whether baptised or not.
Gift and responsibility
From the New Testament we learn that Jesus told his disciples to baptise people in his name, and the apostle Peter told people that God's promises of love and forgiveness are for believers and their children, as we repent and are baptised.
This is the gift of baptism, that despite the things we do wrong, God accepts us back into his family. But it also carries a responsibility. It is the start of a lifelong relationship. A wedding day may be a big party, but we all know that a marriage relationship needs to be worked at throughout life. So a baptism is a celebration, but it marks the decision to follow Jesus and the intention to continue working at our relationship with him. Adults can make their own promises, but for babies and young children, parent(s) or guardian(s) make the promises for them.
During a baptism ceremony, parent(s) or guardian(s) will be asked questions along the lines of:
- Do you present this child for baptism, wishing your child to learn about Jesus Christ, to know his forgiveness, to share his love and obey his word?
- Do you believe in one God, the Father of us all, who came to live among us in the person of Jesus Christ the Son, and who is present with us now in the Holy Spirit?
- Do you promise, depending on the grace of God, to bring your child to Christ's Church so that s/he can hear the Good News of the Gospel and grow in the love of the Lord and in the service of other people?
As you can see, to answer these questions requires some understanding and commitment. If you are not a communicant member of the church, before you bring your child for baptism, you will be asked to spend some time talking through the questions and what you know about Jesus. The minister will advise you how this is to be done. Normally a date for baptism will only be arranged after these meetings.
The church has a responsibility too
Baptism will normally take place during public worship on a Sunday. By this the church family remind themselves that they too have a responsibility, to show the love and forgiveness of God to your children and all the young people who come into their care. During the service they will promise to do this.
What should you do now?
- Come to Maryhill Church and join in our worship! You, and any other children you have, are welcome, with or without baptism. There is a creche and a Sunday Club in parallel with the service at 11 am each Sunday.
- If you have not already talked to a minister, contact one of the ministry team and tell them you want your child - or yourself - baptised.
- Please note that for a baptism in Maryhill Church, you should either be a communicant member of this church or live in the parish. If you don't, see the minister and he'll tell you what to do.