Baptism and belonging – a role for everyone

On Sunday afternoon, we gathered in our Parish Church of All Saints’ Longstanton, weaving songs and poetry to set the scene:

Here in this ancient place of worship,
where generations before us have come in times of joy and sorrow,
we are invited to lay down the burdens we are carrying,
and take up our place in a still unfolding love-story,
as we boldly sing God’s praise.

SING: Every Season; Every Season; God is with us; God is with us; Spring and Summer; Autumn Winter; God’s love unceasing

Here, in this ancient place of worship,
where generations have gathered
to pass on the love-stories of our faith to little ones sitting on their laps,
and to build up and encourage each other in the telling and the singing
we take up our place, singing…

SING: Every Season; Every Season; God is with us; God is with us; Spring and Summer; Autumn Winter; God’s love unceasing

Here, in this ancient place of worship, God waits to meet with us,
promising that we shall be so filled with love
that we will run to love and serve others.

SING: Every Season; Every Season; God is with us; God is with us; Spring and Summer; Autumn Winter; God’s love unceasing

And so we recognise God’s presence among us, signing and saying – as we did at the recent Thanksgiving, and as our Little Explorers celebrate every Thursday:

ALL: In my head, in my heart, and all around me: Jesus is Here

opening words from Sunday’s Baptism, including a song by Sam and Sara Hargreaves, to the tune of London’s Burning.

We told the story of the Ethiopian, who asked Philip “How can I understand unless I have a mentor?”, before asking to be baptised at a pool in the wilderness.

And we thought about how God puts the right people in our lives at the right time; mentors, supporters, friends… people who can help us understanding and follow Jesus.

We were challenged to ask how God might want to use us as a mentor, supporter, or friend to someone.

Perhaps to the child about to be baptised!

Just some of our interactive stations…

Through interactive stations, we thought about the four symbols of baptism: Water, The Cross, Light, and Community. We drank water; washed hands; and pondered the roots of plants. We wove crosses, with different colours representing our lives, and the gifts God might want us to share. We used UV pens to ask secret questions. And to respond with secret answers, only made visible with UV light. And we wrote messages of support and prayers of encouragement in a bible – a symbol of belonging to the community.

And then, with great joy (and much splashing) we baptised the child.

And were recommissioned, promising:

We will nurture one another in faith
        uphold one another in prayer
        and encourage one another in service.

from the Baptism Service

What a wonderful Happy Day! No wonder we sang and danced to this song, recorded by our own musicians

What is Baptism?

Baptism marks the beginning of a journey with God which continues for the rest of our lives, the first step in response to God’s love. For all involved, particularly the candidates but also parents, godparents and sponsors, it is a joyful moment when we rejoice in what God has done for us in Christ, making serious promises and declaring the faith. The wider community of the local church and friends welcome the new Christian, promising support and prayer for the future. Hearing and doing these things provides an opportunity to remember our own baptism and reflect on the progress made on that journey, which is now to be shared with this new member of the Church.

The service paints many vivid pictures of what happens on the Christian way. There is the sign of the cross, the badge of faith in the Christian journey, which reminds us of Christ’s death for us. Our ‘drowning’ in the water of baptism, where we believe we die to sin and are raised to new life, unites us to Christ’s dying and rising, a picture that can be brought home vividly by the way the baptism is administered. Water is also a sign of new life, as we are born again by water and the Spirit. This reminds us of Jesus’ baptism. And as a sign of that new life, there may be a lighted candle, a picture of the light of Christ conquering the darkness of evil. Everyone who is baptized walks in that light for the rest of their lives.

As you pray for the candidates, picture them with yourself and the whole Church throughout the ages, journeying into the fullness of God’s love.

Jesus said, ‘I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.’ John 10.10

Pastoral Introduction to Baptism, from Common Worship

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