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A Baptism Service

The Rite of Entrance into the Christian Community

Baptism is the rite of entrance into the Christian community. If you plan on having your child baptized, you should expect to work with the minister or priest of a particular church in preparing for this ceremony, and each church will have a slightly different understanding of the sacrament. This is one such service, but be prepared for differences from denomination to denomination.

Hear the words of our Lord Jesus Christ:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of God, the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Hear also these words from Holy Scripture:

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism,one God and Creator of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

The minister addresses the parents presenting children for baptism:

Do you desire that _______ be baptized?

The parents respond: We do.

Relying on God's grace, do you promise to walk in the way of Christ and teach that way to your child?

We do.

The minister addresses the congregation:

Do we, as members of this extended family promise to guide and nurture _______ by word and deed, with love and prayer, encouraging her (him) to walk in the way of Christ and his peace, standing up for God’s justice in this world?

We do.

Thanksgiving Over the Water

Minister: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.

Minister: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give our thanks and praise.

We give you thanks, O God, for you nourish and sustain all living things by the gift of water. In the beginning of time, your Spirit moved over the watery chaos, calling forth life itself.

You led the people of God out of slavery, through the waters of the sea, into the freedom of the promised land.

In the waters of Jordan Jesus was baptized by John and filled with your Spirit which gives life to all.

We thank you, O God, for the water of baptism. Through it we cleansed of our sins and reminded that all good things come from God, especially the gift of life.

The minister may touch the water.

Send your Spirit to move over this water as it did on the day creation, that _______ may fully share in the creative and life giving power and Spirit of God.

_______, I baptize you in the name of God, the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.
O Lord, uphold _______ by your Holy Spirit.
Give him/her the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord,
the spirit of joy in your presence,
both now and forever. Amen.

The minister then says to all assembled:
The peace of Christ be with you.

They respond:
And also with you.

Baptismal Prayer (the minister):

Gracious God, giver of all life,
we pray for _______ and _______ (the parents):
Give them wisdom and patience
to guide their child in the way of Jesus Christ.
Let your peace and joy dwell in their home,
that they and this extended family may live in faith,
hope and love, these three;
that their family life may be instructed by faith,
sustained by prayer and governed by love.
Strengthen them in their own baptism,
that they may rejoice as children of God,
and serve you faithfully,
in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen
The passing of the peace.
(The minister will sometimes carry the newly baptized infant, in the case of infant baptism, through the isles of the church introducing her/him to the congregation.)

A note about God parents. Some denominations include "God parents," in the service. These are often close relatives or friends whom the parents designate to take special responsibility for the spiritual life of their growing children. In other traditions, the congregation itself acts as "sponsor," taking responsibility for the Christian education and upbringing of all baptized children.

Charles Henderson

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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and author of Faith, Science and the Future, published in 1994 by CrossCurrents Press. He is also the author of God and Science (John Knox / Westminster, 1986) which he is now rewriting to incorporate more recent developments in the conversation taking place between scientists and theologians. He has also written widely for such publications as The New York Times, The Nation, Commonweal, The Christian Century and others.

For further information about Charles Henderson.