A simplified baptism service could soon be rolled out across the Church of England, in a move away from the ”˜wordy’ traditional liturgy. The Additional Texts for Holy Baptism was before Synod for First Consideration, having been changed since it was introduced by the Diocese of Liverpool, following criticisms of it ”˜dumbing down’ the service. The Bishop of Sodor and Man moved the motion, explaining the need stemming from the ”˜wordy and complex’ nature of the current provision. It is now to be considered by the Revision Committee. The new text shortens the service by omitting elements that are not obligatory. “When a child is brought for baptism he or she comes with empty hands,” Robert Paterson said, “Simply the most precious thing in God’s sight is a child of his creation.” Feedback from families who have taken part in baptism show they remember the symbols of the service more than words. “This is a specific request to draft liturgy to meet pastoral need,” he continued. The Group believed the word ”˜submit’, seen in the current text, ”˜seemed to some like bullying’. All of these texts in their authorised form would be additional, not to replace Common Worship texts, the Bishop promised, and is subject to yet more synodical processes. He alluded to the backlash over the absence of the devil in the new baptism service. “We all know that, for many people, the devil has been turned into a cartoon-like character of no particular malevolence. “We have no quarrel with standing up to the devil: the problem is helping people with little doctrinal appreciation to understand what we mean by affirming that the devil is a defeated power.” The press was heavily criticised by many speakers in the debate highlighting the omission of the devil and sin from the first trial draft. “Wherever possible, the final ”˜Commission’ should be expressed simply and directly, eye-to-eye, and not read from a prepared text.
Category : Baptism
In the traditional service, godparents are asked whether they are ready to renounce the devil and all his works for the sake of the child being baptized.
The new wording, approved Sunday (July 13), only asks whether parents and godparents will “turn away from sin” and “reject evil.”
Speaking after the new wording was overwhelmingly approved, Bishop Robert Paterson denied that the baptism service had been watered down.
“We all know that for many people, the devil has been turned into a cartoonlike character of no particular malevolence,” he said.
After a pledge by Pope Francis to “excommunicate” mobsters from the Catholic Church, an archbishop in southern Italy has proposed a 10-year ban on naming godparents at baptisms and confirmations as a way to stop the Mafia from spreading its influence.
Monsignor Giuseppe Fiorini Morosini, the archbishop of Reggio Calabria, wrote to Francis some time ago with his suggestion “to prevent the exploitation of the church,” in particular by the powerful Calabrian Mafia known as ’Ndrangheta, and discussed his proposal with the pope at the Vatican last weekend.
Mobsters taking part in the baptisms of newborns as a godfather, or “padrino,” help the mob establish a special bond with future generations of potential criminals.
Declaring that the devil has departed from the Church of England’s baptism service, The Guardian reported on June 20 that “a simplified baptism which omits mention of the devil” is now favored by the clergy who have test-marketed it throughout the United Kingdom. Claiming that the traditional rejection of the devil and all rebellion against God “put off people who are offended to be addressed as sinners,” clergy claimed that they found it much easier to ask parents and godparents to make vows that do not mention Satan.
Responding to a population “which sees no pressing reason to spend Sunday mornings or any other time in Church,” the Guardian reports, the new and improved baptism service also deletes the instruction to the godparents that the child will keep God’s commandments, and learn what a Christian “ought to know and believe to his soul’s health” ”” promising only that the church “shall do all that we can to ensure that there is a welcoming place for you. We will play our part in helping you guide these children along the way of faith.”
The decision to delete the devil from the ritual reveals that the Church of England may be losing its sense of sin ”” and its need for salvation. More than 60 years ago, T.S. Eliot wrote about the sense of alienation that occurred when social regulators ”” like the church ”” began to splinter and the controlling moral authority of a society is no longer effective. He suggested that a “sense of sin” was beginning to disappear. In his play “The Cocktail Party,” a troubled young woman confides in her psychiatrist that she feels “sinful” because of her relationship with a married man. She is distressed not so much by the illicit relationship, but rather, by the strange sense of sin. Eliot writes that “having a sense of sin seems abnormal she believed that she had become ill.”
Pause on Ascension for a moment. The Ascension, frustratingly, is often radically misunderstood. The Ascension is not about Jesus going away and encouraging his followers to look forward to the time when they, too, will leave this sad old earth and follow him to heaven. The angels do not say to the watching disciples, ”˜This same Jesus, whom you have seen going into heaven, will look forward to welcoming you when you go to join him there,’ but ”˜this same Jesus, whom you have seen going into heaven, will come again in the same way as you saw him go into heaven’. And the point of that so-called ”˜second coming’, or ”˜reappearance’ as several New Testament writers put it, is not that he will then scoop us up and take us away from earth to heaven, but that he will celebrate the great party, the great banquet, the marriage of heaven and earth, establishing once and for all his rescuing, ransoming, restoring sovereignty over the whole creation. ”˜The kingdom of this world,’ says John the Seer, ”˜has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he shall reign for ever and ever.’ Amen, we say at the Ascension. This is the real Feast of Christ the King, and the sooner we abolish the fake one that has recently been inserted into our calendar in late November the more likely we shall be to get our political theology sorted out. And, boy, do we need to sort it out right now. If at a time like this we cannot think and speak and act Christianly and wisely and clearly and sharply into the mess and muddle of the rulers of the world we really should be ashamed of ourselves. Jesus is already reigning, is already in charge of this world. ”˜All authority,’ he says at the end of Matthew’s gospel, ”˜has been given to me in heaven and on earth.’ When he returns he will complete that work of transformative, restorative justice; but it has already begun, despite the sneers of the sceptics and the scorn of the powerful, and we celebrate it with every Eucharist but especially today at Pentecost.
Why especially today? Because at Pentecost we discover, as in last week’s Collect, that the Holy Spirit comes to strengthen or comfort us and exalt us to the same place where our saviour Christ has gone before. In other words, the Spirit is the power of heaven come to earth, or to put it the other way the Spirit is the power that enables surprised earthlings to share in the life of heaven. And, to say it once more, the point about heaven is that heaven is the control room for earth. The claim of Pentecost, from Acts 2 and Ephesians 4 and Romans 8 and all those other great Spirit-texts in the New Testament, especially John 13””16, is precisely that the rule which the ascended Lord Jesus exercises on earth is exercised through his Spirit-filled people. No doubt we do need ”˜comforting’ in the modern sense of that word, cheering up when we’re sad. But we need, far more do we need, ”˜comforting’ in the older sense of ”˜strengthening’, strengthening-by-coming-alongside. Just as, in human ”˜comfort’, a strange thing happens, that the sheer presence, even the silent presence, alongside us of a friend gives us fresh courage and hope, how much more will the presence alongside us and within us of the Spirit of Jesus himself give us courage and hope not simply to cheer up in ourselves but to be strong to witness to his Lordship, his sovereign rule, over the world where human rulers mess it up and ignorant armies clash by night.
So being ”˜exalted to the place where Jesus has gone before’ is precisely not about being snatched away from this wicked world and its concerns. On the contrary, it is to be taken in the power of the Spirit to the place from which the world is run.
Christians believe that Jesus was immersed in the waters of the Jordan River by John the Baptist, who wore a cloak of camel’s hair and lived on locusts and honey in the desert wilderness.
But the Gospels are not precise about which side of the river the baptism took place on ”” the east bank or the west.
Although it might not matter much to a half-million annual visitors who come to the river for sightseeing or a renewal of faith, it matters very much to tourism officials in Israel and Jordan, who maintain dueling baptism sites, one smack-dab across from the other, with the shallow, narrow, muddy stream serving as international boundary.
How quickly they disappear””the greens, the wreaths, the poinÂsetÂtias. Gone. Another ChristÂmas comes and goes. For some it was sad and lonely. For othÂers it was bright, joyÂous, even unforgettable””and yet all too short lived. Now in one short step a new year has begun. In the conÂgreÂgaÂtions of the DioÂcese of South CarÂolina we step liturÂgiÂcally into a new seaÂson as well. Into the seaÂson after The Epiphany and with it from Jesus’ birth to his bapÂtism; we step out of the staÂble of BethÂleÂhem into the muddy waters of the JorÂdan. As the old spirÂiÂtual puts it, “The River JorÂdan is muddy and cold. It chills the body but not the soul. All my triÂals, Lord, will soon be over.” This speaks of a crossÂing over. Life is filled with many crossÂings and changes and in the midst of them it is good to rememÂber the great truths such as””“Jesus is the same, yesÂterÂday, today, and forÂever.” The culÂtural trapÂpings of the ChristÂmas seaÂson pass and in their place the waters of the JorÂdan flow and the Lamb of God comes to river bank for the BapÂtism of John.
This is imporÂtant for us because the crossÂings and changes of life are like the poor ”“ they are always with us.
Listen to it all should you wish to.
You can find the audio link here; listen to it all (just under 23 minutes).
Let us return again to the theme of witnessing. In the second reading the Apostle John writes: “It is the Spirit who bears witness” (1 John 5:6). He is referring to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, who bears witness to Jesus, testifying that he is the Christ, the Son of God. This is also seen in the scene of the baptism in the Jordan River: the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus like a dove, revealing that he is the Only Begotten Son of the Eternal Father (cf. Mark 1:10). John underscores this aspect as well in his Gospel when Jesus says to his disciples: “When the Paraclete comes, whom I will send from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you too will bear witness to me, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27). This is a great comfort to us in educating others in the faith because we know that we are not alone and that our witness is supported by the Holy Spirit.
It is very important for you parents and also for you godfathers and godmothers to believe strongly in the presence and the action of the Holy Spirit, to call upon him and welcome him in you through prayer and the sacraments. He is the one in fact who enlightens the mind, who makes the heart of the educator burn so that he or she knows how to transmit the knowledge of the love of Christ. Prayer is the first condition for educating, because in praying we create the disposition in ourselves of letting God have the initiative, of entrusting our children to him, who knows them before we do and better than us, and knows perfectly what their true good is.
Almighty God, who at the baptism of thy blessed Son Jesus Christ in the river Jordan didst manifest his glorious Godhead: Grant, we beseech thee, that the brightness of his presence may shine in our hearts, and his glory be set forth in our lives; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
The text is currently being piloted in 450 parishes. It was developed by the Liturgical Commission after the Synod approved a motion from Liverpool diocese asking for an alternative text in “accessible language”.
A note attached to the text, which was published on Sunday, says that “Clergy frequently find themselves conducting baptisms for families who have little contact with the Church. . . For the majority of those attending on such occasions, the existing provision can seem complex and inaccessible.”
The note states that the Commission had sought to “express the primacy of God’s welcoming grace, while retaining the solemnity of the promises to turn away from evil and towards Christ”.
The Church of Ireland has “no current plans” to follow the example of Anglican church leaders in England and introduce a devil-free version of the traditional baptism service.
In the new wording, currently being-road tested in 400 parishes across the water, parents and godparents are being asked if they “reject evil, and all its many forms, and all empty promises”. In the traditional version, they are asked if they “reject the devil and all rebellion against God”.
The move follows a motion brought to the church’s General Synod from the a group of clergy in Liverpool, who sought to alter the baptism service to include “culturally appropriate and accessible language”.
What on earth is wrong with ‘Christ crucified’? Does the phrase no longer resonate in the minds of the un-churched? Is it not a matter of general historical knowledge that Jesus died on as cross? Is it not generally known that this is what the Church believes? It must be the ultimate irony in liturgical development that the Church of England becomes ashamed of the exhortation not to be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified.
But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; (1 Cor 1:23)
Saint Paul goes to the very heart of the gospel with this phrase. One is left in no doubt that Christ crucified is the very nexus – quite literally crucial – to the plan of salvation. We must preach Christ and him crucified, not just the man, for His death and resurrection are the beginning, middle and end of our redemption. Christ crucified is offensive; it is indeed a stumblingblock; it is undoubtedly foolishness to those who are being lost. But we do not help them by purging it from liturgy and trying to express it in “culturally appropriate and accessible language”.
These recent entries about a proposed alternative baptism liturgy scrolled off the main page quite quickly, and perhaps many blog readers missed them. They deserve close attention in our opinion – the elves
The proposed baptism service is here:
Church of England””Alternative Baptism Materials
News and commentary:
(BBC) Church of England accused of ”˜dumbing down’ baptism service
Bishop Nazir Ali””Why the CofE must abandon this dumbed-down christening
The Bishop of Willesden in reponse””The experimental baptism rite – baptism lite
Church of England””Statement on proposal to Synod on baptism service wording
A Church of England spokesman said that the baptism service used would be decided by the priest, in consultation with the family.
He said the new wording was the third revision of the baptism service in 30 years.
He said the current service had been in use since Easter 1998 and the wording had been amended by general synod in 2000 and in 2005.
Since at least the 1970s there has been a fashion in the Church of England to minimise depth and mystery in its worship because of the alleged need to make its services ”˜accessible’.
The new alternative service for baptism, which has been sent for trial, continues this trend. Instead of explaining what baptism means and what the various parts of the service signify, its solution is to do away with key elements of the service altogether!
From ancient times, the structure of the service has included the renunciation of sin, the world and the devil and the turning to Christ as Lord and Saviour.
Read it all from the Mail on Sunday.
On the alternative so-called baptismal rite – the salient questions are:
1. Why is it so semi-Pelagian when it claims to be about grace? “Will you help them?” It’s wet… and not in the water sense!
2. Where is the sense of their own pilgrimage which was expressed in “walk with them in the way of Christ?”
3. Where is the truth that we are rebels against God expressed?
4. Where is repentance from sin?
The Baptism service currently used by the Church of England has been in use since Easter 1998. The wording of the service was amended by General Synod in 2000 and again in 2005.
In 2011 a group of clergy from the Diocese of Liverpool brought forward a motion to the General Synod of the Church of England requesting materials to supplement the Baptism service “in culturally appropriate and accessible language.” Specifically the motion requested new additional materials which would not replace or revise the current Baptsim service but would be available for use as alternatives to three parts of the service.
A baptism is all about renouncing the devil, washing away the stain of original sin, and entrusting your child’s soul to God. But here’s betting that for Kate and William today’s ceremony is less about religion and more an opportunity for a happy party, surrounded by the people they most care about, to celebrate the arrival of their son. And if it is, what’s wrong with that?
The tradition of having your baby baptised is in decline in Britain: christenings in the Church of England are down by around a half on what they were in 1980, and there’s a similar story in the Catholic church. Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury who’s presiding at the font in St James’s Palace today, says it would be wonderful if the baptism of Prince George led other parents to think about getting their baby christened. And he’s right ”“ not because the church needs bums on its pews, but because baptism is an age-old rite of passage that provides one of those all-important moments in family life when we pause, take stock, and think about both where we’ve come from and where we’re going, and how important it is to support one another along the way.
Those who make this journey must look in two directions, the Archbishop said.
‘First, they look at the world. Jesus tells his disciples to let people come to him. To do that they have to be outward looking, in touch with the world, welcoming, generous-spirited, alive with the life of the Christ to whom they will introduce all who come.’
He added that as a Christian, Prince George ‘is to share the life of Christ which is in him, regardless of whom he meets, their faith or nature or habits, so that others find life. That sharing may be in words, or generous actions – most likely both – but it will be both very costly and infinitely rewarding.’
The second direction in which Christians must look is towards Christ, the Archbishop said….
Read it all and note the video link at the bottom for those interested.
The christening of Prince George has taken place in the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace in London.
The prince, third in line to the throne, was baptised by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The christening was private, with only senior royals, four members of the Middleton family, the seven godparents and their spouses among the 22 guests.
Next week, Prince George of Cambridge is to be christened into the Church of England in a 45-minute ceremony at the Chapel Royal of St James’s Palace. As well as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge: The Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall and members of the Middleton family will be present.
Although godparents have yet to be announced, many have speculated over who the honour could be afforded to. Princess Beatrice, Prince Harry, Pippa Middleton and also some of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s friends from university have been picked out by analysts.
The Church of England carries out more than 10,000 christenings per month each year for babies and infants. This figure is made up of approximately 7,000 christenings per month for babies under one year old, and 3000 christenings per month for children aged 1 – 12 years. Everyone is welcome to have a christening in their parish church.
Here is a list of the most frequently asked questions about getting your baby or child christened.
Leaders of Catholic and Reformed churches have signed an agreement to recognize each other’s sacraments of baptism, a public step toward unity among groups that are often divided by doctrine.
“Baptism establishes the bond of unity existing among all who are part of Christ’s body and is therefore the sacramental basis for our efforts to move towards visible unity,” reads the “Common Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Baptism.”
The document was signed, after seven years of discussion, at a worship service Tuesday (Jan. 29) at St. Mary Cathedral in Austin, Texas, which opened the annual meeting of Christian Churches Together in the USA, an ecumenical network created in 2001.
“This is the Lord’s Table. It is not Grace Church’s table. All are welcome to receive communion.”
It is not unusual to hear or read these or similar words””with the local parish or its denomination named””at a service of worship in which the Eucharist will be celebrated. Such an announcement reflects the practice commonly called “open communion.” To say that a church has an open communion policy has generally meant that persons who are not formally members of that church are nevertheless allowed or encouraged to share in the eucharistic meal.
Open communion in that sense is not universal, of course, and never has been. Some denominations as a matter of principle allow only their own members to commune and in practice take pains to ensure that the restriction is observed. But among churches of the Reformation, open communion has long been a custom widely accepted and fairly uncontroversial. Hence the invitation.
Lately, however, what is or might be meant by open communion has shifted….
It is imperative that we keep our terms clear and I have noted before it is curcial that we NOT call the increasingly common practice of TEC of inviting anyone no matter what their situation to communion open communion but instead communion of the unbaptized. With that said, read it all.
The level of support for C029 when it was presented to the House of Bishops on 12 July 2012 was markedly different. The Rt. Rev. William Gregg, Assistant Bishop of North Carolina, was the first to rise and offered a strong statement of rejection of the resolution.
It was “not up to one denomination” to change the universal church’s teaching on baptism, Bishop Gregg said.
The Bishop of Southern Ohio, the Rt. Rev. Thomas Breidenthal, agreed the issue needed further study and urged defeat of the resolution….
The Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon, Bishop of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, urged his colleagues not to refer the matter to committee but to vote for adoption. There were large numbers of non-baptized people in Europe, he noted, and by recognizing the need for pastoral sensitivity this permitted bishops to address local needs. Without this recognition the hands of bishops were tied, he said….