Christenings

Baptism, Christening or Naming Ceremonies

Sample Baptism Ceremony

Opening:

We are gathered here today to celebrate the rite of baptism, to welcome a newcomer – [CHILD] – into our community.

This is a ritual with ancient roots. It relies on water, one of the most fundamental forms of matter – and one of the most potent of human symbols. Water, we are told, washes away impurities and is the source of life. It makes up 75 percent of our bodies. In ancient Egypt, the high priests spoke of Atum, the first being, stepping out of Nun, the primordial waters. The Norse gothar described the fires of Muspelheim melting the ice of Niflheim, giving birth to the waters from which our world arose.
In the book of Genesis, we’re told that in the beginning, the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters – Then God said: Let there be light, and there was light.

Reading:

Let us pray… from chapter 10 of the Gospel of Mark:


Jesus was preaching in the district of Judea – And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.

Charge to the parents:

[PARENTS], you have assembled this community of friends and relations to recognize and welcome this child. Do you promise to fulfill this child’s needs, offering comfort and care as long as needed, to the best of your ability?
PARENTS: “We do.”

Charge to the godparents:

[GODPARENTS], you are charged with the responsibility of the spiritual welfare of this child should the need arise and it is you who stand as spiritual counselors.  Do you accept this duty and charge?
GODPARENTS: “We do.”

Do you promise to love, honor, support and encourage this child throughout his/her life?
GODPARENTS: “We do.”

Please bring the child forward.

Baptism (pouring of water):

I baptize thee in the name of the Father; 
In the name of the Son; 
and in the name of the Holy Spirit; 
Amen.

Final blessing:

CHILD’S NAME, from this day onward, no matter how dark the world may seem nor how alone and lost you may feel, you shall never be alone again, never without hope or assurance
You are surrounded by the light of truth, you are encompassed by love, you are always protected and never alone. So it is today and so it shall always be. Amen.

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Alternate readings:

Kahlil Gibran: “On Children” –
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Frances Cornford: “Ode on the Whole Duty of Parents” –
The spirits of children are remote and wise,
They must go free
Like fishes in the sea
Or starlings in the skies,
Whilst you remain
The shore where casually they come again.
But when there falls the stalking shade of fear,
You must be suddenly near,
You, the unstable, must become a tree
In whose unending heights of flowering green
Hangs every fruit that grows, with silver bells;
Where heart-distracting magic birds are seen
And all the things a fairy-story tells;
Though still you should possess
Roots that go deep in ordinary earth,
And strong consoling bark
To love and to caress.

Last, when at dark
Safe on the pillow lies an up-gazing head
And drinking holy eyes
Are fixed on you,
When, from behind them, questions come to birth
Insistently,
On all the things that you have ever said
Of suns and snakes and parallelograms and flies,
And whether these are true,
Then for a while you’ll need to be no more
That sheltering shore
Or legendary tree in safety spread,
No, then you must put on
The robes of Solomon,
Or simply be
Sir Isaac Newton sitting on the bed.

William Butler Yeats: “A Prayer for My Son”
Bid a strong ghost stand at the head
That my Michael may sleep sound,
Nor cry, nor turn in the bed
Till his morning meal come round;
And may departing twilight keep
All dread afar till morning’s back.
That his mother may not lack
Her fill of sleep.

Bid the ghost have sword in fist:
Some there are, for I avow
Such devilish things exist,
Who have planned his murder, for they know
Of some most haughty deed or thought
That waits upon his future days,
And would through hatred of the bays
Bring that to nought.

Though You can fashion everything
From nothing every day, and teach
The morning stars to sing,
You have lacked articulate speech
To tell Your simplest want, and known,
Wailing upon a woman’s knee,
All of that worst ignominy
Of flesh and bone;

And when through all the town there ran
The servants of Your enemy,
A woman and a man,
Unless the Holy Writings lie,
Hurried through the smooth and rough
And through the fertile and waste,
protecting, till the danger past,
With human love.

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