Baptism is one of the two sacraments that we celebrate in the United Church of Canada. Baptism is the sacrament of entry into the Christian community. This makes Baptism a crucial moment in life.
It is an occasion for the affirmation of faith in God through Jesus Christ and for the public declaration of a commitment to follow Jesus throughout all of life. It is offered to all who wish to make this affirmation and commitment.
Baptism is a response believers make to the Good News of the Christian Gospel. It is in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ that we learn about the Christian way of living. Jesus revealed to us that God’s love has no limit. Jesus upset the people of his day. His radical love and his commitment to justice caused people to resent his teachings. People became upset with Jesus and so they crucified him. Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ we learn that the forces of evil cannot conquer God’s love. God would not let death and evil have the final say. God’s love is stronger than death. God loves each person for who they are and for who they can become. There is nothing that will stop God from loving us and wanting the best for us.
The responsibilities which fall upon parents who bring children to the Church for baptism arise from the fact that they are affirming their own Christian faith and promising to raise their child in this
same faith. This promise is fulfilled by parents in the following ways:
1. By affirming the importance of Christian faith in their own lives and by seeking to grow in faith and to understand and share their faith.
2. By providing the child with a knowledge of Christian truths and duties, and with opportunities for both public worship and private prayer.
3. By being the kind of parent whose care and discipline will help the child to understand God’s love and to experience it in both the home and the Christian community.
Thoughts to Ponder
“Do you truly desire for yourself what you are asking for your child?”
“Can you commit your child to anything more than you are committed to yourself?”
The responsibility that falls upon the congregation arises from the fact that a baptized child is, by baptism, received into the church of Jesus Christ. The congregation promises at baptism, not only to receive the child, but to assist the parents in the Christian nurture of the child. This promise is fulfilled by the congregation in the following ways:
1. By affirming that worship belongs to everyone, of every age; and that children are an integral part of the worshiping community.
2. By providing Christian education programs for children and youth through which the congregation can strengthen and support the Christian nurture provided in the home.
3. By being another intentional Christian community, aside from the home, in which a child’s faith can grow, be understood and shared.
Thoughts to Ponder
“Are you willing to support the congregation as it seeks to fulfill it’s responsibilities for your child and all other children under its care?”
“Are you willing to affirm the importance of the community of faith by being a part of it with your child?”
Are there other reasons for Baptism?
In the minds of many people today there are “other reasons” for bringing a child to the church for Baptism. They are not, however, the right reasons.
Listed below are some of the most common “other reasons” which we hear; and a brief explanation why each is not the “right reason” for baptism.
1. TO GIVE THANKS FOR OUR CHILD’S BIRTH
Although thanksgiving is certainly a part of a Baptism service, Baptism is much more than this. There are services of “Thanksgiving after Childbirth”. If this is your only concern, then you should ask for such a service.
2. SO OUR CHILD CAN HAVE THE SAME OPPORTUNITIES WE HAD TO DECIDE ABOUT RELIGION
Baptism presupposes a decision already. And unless you, as a parent, have chosen the way of Christ for yourself you can hardly choose it for your child.
3. SO OUR CHILD CAN GO TO SUNDAY SCHOOL
Baptism is not a condition of attending Sunday School. No child is every turned away because he or she is not baptized.
4. TO PROTECT OUR CHILD FROM GOING TO HELL IF HE OR SHE SHOULD DIE
This thinking is not the message of the Christian gospel. Any God who condemned children simply because they were unbaptized would not be the God of Jesus Christ!
5. SO OUR CHILD CAN BE MARRIED IN THE CHURCH WHEN THE TIME COMES
In the United Church of Canada baptism is not a prerequisite for marriage in the Church. You should also realize that whether your child wishes to marry as a Christian or not will be his/her own decision when the time comes.
6. TO SAVE OUR CHILD THE EMBARRASSMENT OF BEING BAPTIZED WHEN OLDER
Baptism should never be an embarrassment! If it is then its proper meaning is not understood. Adult baptism is not only the original form of Christian Baptism, it is a profoundly significant experience for the person who decides on his or
her own to be a Christian.
7. BECAUSE WE BELIEVE IN GOD
Christians are not the only ones who believe in God. So do Jews and Muslims. Christian Baptism is only for those who will follow Jesus Christ in the community of his Church.
8. BECAUSE IT IS A TRADITION IN OUR FAMILY
Some families have a tradition of baptism without any active commitment to Christ and his Church. If this is the case, then the meaning of baptism has been lost and the sacrament is being abused.
9. THE GRANDPARENTS WOULD BE UPSET IF OUR CHILD WAS NOT BAPTIZED
It is difficult for us, even as adults, to deal with parental pressure. However, it is you, the child’s parents, and not the grandparents, who must give him or her a Christian upbringing if baptized. The decision must be yours, no matter what others think or feel.
10. TO OFFICIALLY GIVE OUR CHILD A NAME
Your child officially receives his or her name when the birth is registered with the civil authorities. This is NOT what Baptism is for.
11. BECAUSE THE REST OR OUR CHILDREN ARE BAPTIZED AND WE CAN’T HAVE ONE LEFT OUT
If the rest of your family is already a part of the worshipping congregation, then indeed you cannot “leave this one out”. However, if this is not the case, then in a very real sense, they have all been “left out”; and there is every good reason to avoid one more misuse of Baptism. Baptism is always baptism into a community of faith. It presupposes subsequent involvement with the community of faith.
12. TO GIVE OUR CHILD A GOOD START
If you follow through on the promises you will take at the Baptism of your child, then you will indeed give him or her “a good start”. However, the ceremony on its own without the follow-through would only be a “false start”. If you are presently at a loss for good reasons for the baptism of your child but still want to pursue the matter, we encourage you to begin to attend Sunday Worship, if you haven’t already and make this a regular family habit. It will help you as you seek to grow in your faith and to know the full life God wants for you. Feel free to contact the Ministers regarding any questions you may have. They will be more than happy to assist you.
"In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God."
The death of a loved one is never easy. A wide range of emotions and thoughts come to people as they planning a funeral. For some there is a depth of grieve that feels so overwhelming that they do not know what to say or do. For others, there may be a sense of relief, for the pain and suffering that your loved one experienced will now be over. Please know that whatever you are feeling, God accepts you and loves you.
At St. Paul’s we try to be expressions of God’s love. If you are experiencing grief and sorrow, please know that we are there for you and we are ready to help you through this time. If you have lost a loved one and would like to talk with Rev. Lexie Chamberlain about a funeral or memorial service, or any aspect of your sorrow, please contact the church office.
One of the difficulties faced by loved ones of the deceased is deciding what kind of service to hold, or what kind of content to include.
Pre-planning your Christian funeral or memorial service is one of the best ways to help your family during their difficult time of grief and loss.
You will be giving your family guidance and direction about the things that are most important to you for your own funeral service.
You will be helping to alleviate a great deal of the burden, stress, guilt and difficult decision-making associated with planning a loved one's funeral.
You will save your family from over-spending on options that do not reflect your wishes.
You will have the opportunity to carefully consider just how you would like to be remembered.
At the time of a funeral, the family often meets with the funeral home who then contacts the minister to make arrangements for the day and time of the funeral. If you would like to contact the minister prior to going to the funeral home, please do so by contacting the church office.
The ministers at St. Paul’s understand the importance of meeting with the family prior to the funeral service. Most often we refer to funeral services as “A Celebration of Life” service. It is our belief that the love and the life that you shared with the individual who has died is a gift from God. The service that is planned by family and clergy is a time in which we give thanks to God.
When meeting with the minister some questions that might be asked are as follows:
When was ______ born?
Where was he/she born?
Who were her/his parents?
Did he/she have any siblings? Are any siblings still living?
As a child, what kinds of things did _____ participate in?
Where was ______ raised?
If married, how did the couple meet?
If married, when and where did they get married?
Where did ____ go to school?
What kinds of things, outside of work, did ______ enjoy doing?
Did ______ have any favourite foods, sayings, and clothing?
It is the hope that when meeting with the minister, you will be able to share some memories, and in doing so bring comfort to you and help the minister get to know more about the person whose life you are mourning.
We are open to having members of the family or friends speak of the loved one. It is suggested that you do not include too many in this, as some find the length of service too long. It is appropriate to have family and friends read scripture or another lesson.
If you are having a funeral service at our church, it is understood that one of our ministers officiates at the service. We also have a director of music who will do the music for the service. Often at funerals we would sing 2 hymns and have two readings of scripture. The minister would be happy to help the family in choosing the hymns. If the loved one did not have favourite scriptures then the minister would recommend some that seem most fitting for the situation.
In the midst of all the decisions that must be made at the time of a death, it is our hope and prayer that you find comfort in God’s love and in the faith community of St. Paul’s United Church.