Christenings are REALLY important. Every year, hundreds of children are christened in our Diocese, many of whose parents don’t come regularly to church. It’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate with new parents and get to know them, hopefully bringing them into our community and walking with them and their child on the journey of faith.
And there are so many ways to make the service memorable, to make it a really special celebration of this child’s relationship with God, their share in new life with Jesus, and their place as one of the communion of saints.
On our Lay Leaders of Worship course in May, I met the lovely Dawn Abbatt, who has done some really brilliant stuff with her kids’ christenings. I’ll let her tell it in her own words:
I have been to so many [christening services] where the baptism is almost an annoying add on to a service, and an important opportunity for celebration and outreach is overlooked.
I have three children. For Tabitha, her baptism was one of three children being done in one service, the vicar kept getting the children’s names wrong!
For Jasper’s 3 years ago, I was in a new church with vicar (Roni) who is also my friend, I was able to discuss how I wanted his baptism to be a real celebration and also to help my friends who aren’t familiar with church to feel comfortable and introduce them to how church can be. What real Christians do. I felt it was part of my job as a Christian to help show others.
We showed part of the Lion King movie- the beginning where all the animals come to celebrate the birth of the baby lion- and that’s how baptism should be, a shared excitement that we are adding one more to our number.
The pictures here are from Hetty’s baptism earlier this year; we asked everyone to come wearing a crown. This was fantastic as we had people crafting, I encouraged competition between my friends on Facebook, some got to wear wedding tiaras again, some wore flower crowns some feathers, some home made, some bought.
Everyone was welcomed, children could be around and were included, people were encouraged to join in putting the oil on Hetty’s head and then the children were splashing everyone with water from the sprigs of yews.
All the children were helping to ring the bell beforehand. We had vicar selfies, and the meaning of the crowns was explained during a brief talk by Roni. Hetty’s feet were dipped in too as she wanted to climb in the font.
As you can probably tell I am a little pleased with how the day went and lots of my friends have been encouraged as a result. They have felt comfortable in church and they did not burst into flames or get judged or have to keep their children still.