Thinking about a Christening?
As part of caring for the total well-being of a new baby, many parents want to celebrate and give thanks for their child’s life by bringing them to church for a Christening, a very ancient tradition known as the sacrament of Holy Baptism. In former times this service was carried out within a few days after the birth, but nowadays it usually happens at a time when parents are more settled into a routine with their new child, and perhaps with older brothers and sisters (and sometimes parents!) also being christened at the same time. Here at St Oswald’s we welcome young and old to be specially blessed by God in this ancient ceremony and we are delighted when new families continue to share in our spiritual and social life, so that together we may find ways to become more responsible and creative human beings in the complex world into which all of us have been born.
If you would like to book a Christening, please contact the Vicar who will then arrange a convenient time for one of the clergy to visit you at home, so that they can meet you and your child in advance of the service and you may all feel more comfortable when you arrive in church for the occasion of the Baptism. They will be pleased to listen to your child’s life-story so far, and will try to respond to any questions you may have concerning the details of the service: who to choose as godparents, or more generally about the meaning of life (though clergy don’t claim to have all the answers!). We normally include Baptisms in our main Sunday Service at 10.30am, either on the first Sunday of the month (which is our more informal Family Service) or during our Parish Communion Service or Family Communion Service on other Sundays. If you have a particular date already in mind, please ask whether that is available: we can be quite flexible and we do try to accommodate your circumstances as much as possible. You can contact the Vicar by phone (telephone number at the top of the page) or use this contact form:
Baptism is one of the most important sacraments of the Church: it is a symbol of our belonging and it celebrates our essential worth and value as human beings made in God’s image. The service of Holy Baptism (or Christening) is a ceremony which unites Christians everywhere, demonstrating that whatever particular church we may choose for a preferred style of worship, we are nevertheless part of the one worldwide Christian Family that reaches from the past, into the present and into eternity.
There are several signs and symbols used during the Baptism service. The congregation is asked to declare together both their own faith and their support for the parents and godparents in the important task of bringing up their child in the Christian way. The invisible sign of the cross is made on the child’s forehead with fragranced holy oil, first by the priest and then by the parents and godparents in turn. Water is poured into the font and blessed by the priest, who then asks the parents to declare the names they have chosen for their child. The holy water is then poured on the child’s head, prayers are said for that child’s thriving and prospering in life, and the congregation then applauds and welcomes the child into its new extended family. A small candle is lit from the large Easter Candle as a sign of the intention that the child will shine as a light in the world to the glory of God.
Once a year, we invite all the children who have been recently baptised and their families to join us for a Celebratory Party in St Oswald’s Church soon after Christmas, during the season of Epiphany (when we remember the Wise Men bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the child Jesus).There are lots of games and a feast to enjoy, as well as presents for each child before going home! For the rest of the year, we welcome children of all ages and their friends and families to share in our worship, and especially at our Family Services at 10.30am on the first Sunday of each month and at our Family Communion Service on the third Sunday of each month. Children who are of pre-school age are also welcome to join in our weekly Praise & Play gathering on Thursday mornings during term-time. For all those families who approach us for Baptism, we would also hope to be able to offer support and care during the early years of their child’s life, with all the stresses and strains that can be involved, and to continue to do so throughout their school career and for many years to come.
Faithful and loving God, bless those who care for these children and grant them your gifts of love, wisdom and faith. Pour upon them your healing and reconciling love, and protect their homes from all evil. Fill them with the light of your presence and establish them in the joy of your kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
God our creator, we thank you for the wonder of new life and for the mystery of human love. We give thanks for the variety of people whose support and skill surrounds and sustains us at the beginning of life. As Jesus knew love and discipline within a human family, may these children grow in strength and wisdom. As Mary knew the joys and pains of motherhood and as Joseph protected and guided his young family, give these parents your sustaining grace and love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.