Clergy love baptizing babies. It is our favorite thing under the sun to do. At Emmanuel over the past five years, umpteen new little people have been welcomed into the family of God. This coming Sunday we are welcoming two more!
Baptism in the Book of Common Prayer begins with these familiar words:
There is one Body and one Spirit; There is one hope in God’s call to us; One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism; one God and Father of all.
These words are ancient and deep and recognized by Anglicans all over the world. But the only thing required for a “valid” baptism, a baptism that will be recognized by the vast majority of Christians, is that when you pour the water over the baby’s head, you pour the water in the name of the Trinity.
While baptisms in the Episcopal Church are Sunday morning affairs, there are exceptions to the rule. Pastorally, the priest may make accommodations for unorthodox circumstances.
I have done baptisms in the great outdoors. I have twice baptized babies at home and once in the hospital. I even once baptized a nervous young groom who was about to be married at my kitchen table. Each has its own story.
These are the Christenings, as a liturgist, where I have colored outside the lines.
This summer I have the great joy of baptizing a new little family member. This little one will be baptized in her parents’ living room surrounded by family and friends. Family and friends who come from a variety of Christian traditions or no tradition at all.
Baptism is about welcome and inclusion, not who is in and who is out. There is room for EVERYBODY at God’s table. So for this occasion, I crafted the following liturgy — freely and wildly adapted from the United Church of Christ.
As an Episcopal priest, I can’t use this service on Sunday mornings but it’s a great baptism-on-the-go for those occasions outside of the traditions and trappings of church.
So, here you go!
Opening Hymn Morning has broken (Everybody can sing the Cat Steven’s hymn!)
Following the tradition of Jesus who welcomed children into his arms, we welcome NAME into the World.
Fully respecting the diversity of all gathered here, we affirm the love of God made known in him/her and the sacredness of the covenant shared between this child, his/her parents, grandparents, godparents, family and friends, to support him/her as she grows in hope and love.
Questions of the Parents/Family
Do you desire to have NAME baptized? We do.
Will you encourage NAME to learn from the wisdom of the prophets; doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with him/her God? We will.
Will you foster in NAME both a love of God and love of neighbor, that he/she may seek and serve the good in all people? We will.
Will you nurture his/her enquiring and discerning heart through all of the seasons of his/her life? We will.
Will you journey with him/her to discover all the wonders of God’s work found in Mother Earth? We will.
A Promise of Assent
Jesus calls us to welcome children into the full life of connection and community, opening our table and hearts to those most vulnerable, offering the wisdom of the ages to all who hunger for truth.
Do you, who witness and celebrate with NAME today
promise your love, support, and care?
We promise our love, support and care.
Affirmation of Faith
Do you believe in God
the Source, the fountain of life?
I believe in God.
Do you believe in Christ
the Servant, embodied in Jesus of Nazareth?
I believe in Christ.
Do you believe in the Spirit
the Guide, the liberating wellspring of life?
I believe in the Spirit.
Prayer Over the Water & Baptism
We thank you, God, for the gift of creation made known to us in water and word.
Before the world had shape and form, your Spirit moved over the waters. Out of the waters of the deep, you formed the firmament and brought forth the earth to sustain all life.
In the time of Moses, your people Israel passed through the Red Sea waters from slavery to freedom and crossed the flowing Jordan to enter the promised land.
You have come to us through water in the stories of Jesus who was nurtured in the water of Mary’s womb, baptized by John in the water of the Jordan, and became living water to a woman at the Samaritan well. Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and sent them forth to baptize with water and spirit.
Bless by your Holy Spirit, gracious God, this water. With this living water, bless all refreshed, quenched and renewed here with the gift of new and resurrected life. Amen
By what name will this child be called?
I baptize you NAME with faith in the living God,
Source, Servant and Guide.
May the Spirit be upon you,
child of God,
son/daughter of Love. Amen.
Prayer of Dedication
God of wonder, we give thanks for the open-hearted and generous spirit of all, parents, family and friends, who provide a safe harbor and a loving home where NAME may explore, learn, play and grow in to the full stature of your compassion and grace. Amen.
May the road rise up to meet you NAME. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of her hand. Amen.
Freely and wildly adapted from the Baptism liturgy of the United Church of Christ and other sources.