THE CHRISTENING AND BAPTISM CEREMONIES
The christening and baptism service has become one of the great rites of passage .A christening is a child’s first initiation into their religious faith. At a Catholic christening the parents make their declarations, the baby is baptized with holy water , and a candle is lit and given to the parents representing Jesus as the light of the world. A priest may ask parents to attend preparation classes to fully understand the significance of a baptism. The christening service can be held within the main Sunday church service or as a separate service. One or many children may be baptized during the same service. The baby is taken to the font , sprinkled with holy water, and the parents and Godparents promise God they will bring up the child in the Christian faith. The child receives their formal Christian name during the baptism ceremony .The baptism ceremony comes from the Greek word “baptizein” which means to wash. The symbolic sprinkling of holy water is to symbolically wash away (original) sin.
WHAT ARE GODPARENTS? WHAT IS THEIR ROLE?
Traditionally, Godparents were chosen for their own strong religious beliefs, so that they could help guide the growing child in its faith. While this is still true today, often times Godparents are chosen simply because they are close friends of the parents or are family members. Godparents are no longer automatically the legal guardians of the child (unless specifically stated as such in the parent’s will) but are the guardians of the child’s spiritual education . Godparents can serve as the child’s confirmation later on.
OTHER RELIGIOUS WELCOMING CEREMONIES
Blessing Ceremony--the parents of the child want the child to be welcomed into the Christian church but do not want the full commitment of baptism for the child. The child can be baptized at a later date when he/she is old enough to understand its meaning. A Blessing Ceremony usually takes place at the main Sunday church service . The child, family, and Godparents (optional) are asked to go to the front of the church and are asked to profess commitment to their faith. The church also promises at this time to look after the child. Some churches allow parents to compose parts of the blessing themselves.
Thanksgiving Service—thanks are given for the gift of the child and no blessing or baptism are carried out. Parents are not asked to profess their faith. Prayers are however given for the child. Godparents are welcomed but are optional.
Baby Dedication—a service where parents are thanking God for the gift of their child . Parents present their child to God and their community and ask for grace and wisdom in carrying out their parental responsibilities. Parents pray that their child may one day accept and trust in Christ.
NON RELIGIOUS (SECULAR) WELCOMING CEREMONIES
There are a range of non religious baby celebrations to choose from. A trained and licensed celebrant can help you create a unique and personal occasion. They can provide ideas for ceremonies that you can adapt to your own situation. They can also suggest readings, poetry and music to accompany your celebration.