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A PROGRESSIVE LITURGY FOR BAPTISM

 

There can be no single “progressive” liturgy for baptism because our congregations vary in theology from more traditional forms of Christianity to more decidedly interfaith views. Still, baptism is a Christian ritual and so I have written this liturgy for use in faith communities that want to hold onto the form of Christian baptism but who prefer to update the language to a less Christocentic view of faith.

Infant Baptism Service:

GREETING

Officiant
The birth of a child is an event so wonderful, so humbling and yet so awe inspiring that all faith traditions of the world have a ritual of welcome and blessing. We join our hearts and voices with faith communities of every ilk and in every age as we offer thanks and seek blessings today.

Baptism is a Christian ritual that shares some traditions with other faiths. For us the water is symbolic of life itself: the waters of a mother’s womb, as well as the water that sustains life, day after day. But in baptism it also symbolizes the waters of creation that represent the chaos of the capricious universe in which we live.

Just as ancient Jewish tradition teaches that God created the world by bringing order to the chaos of the deep, so, in baptism, we seek the spiritual blessing of the Creator to continue to speak to the chaos, offering us direction and hope.
Do you now present your child to be baptized?

Parents
We do.

Officiant
In presenting your child to be baptized do you pledge, as the child’s parents, to be responsible parents, providing love and care for your child, and giving your child instruction and guidance into a meaningful and spiritual life?

Parents
We will.

Officiant
The care and nurture of a child is a task too great for one or two parents. In reality, a child is always in need of many adults to protect, teach, love, and shepherd into adulthood. Godparents represent all of us who are not the birth parents of a child but who covenant to also love, sacrifice for, be attentive to the needs of, and to care for a child. Do you now pledge to do all that is within your ability to care for this child?

Godparents
We will.

Officiant
And I ask you, the gathered community of faith, will you accept your responsibility to care for and to nurture this and all of the children with whom it is our honor to be with in community?

Congregants
We will.

Officiant (holding a bowl of water)
Let us pray: Creator of all life, we ask that you bless this water as a symbol of birth, life, and creation itself for our use in this sacred purpose. Amen.

Officiant
What is the name of your child?

Parents
Our son’s/daughter’s name is ______________________
Officiant (taking the child in the officiant’s hands and holding her/him over the bowl of water and as drops of water are dropped on the child’s head, saying)

Receiving the gift of life from God, we baptize you now within our community seeking the blessing of the God who is our Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer.

(Officiant holding the newly baptized child up and addressing the congregation says:)
Greet now your new sister/brother, ___________________!

(Officiant may carry the child among the congregation by way of introduction. Returning to stand with parents and Godparents, the officiant concludes:)

Let us pray together:
WE GIVE YOU THANKS, O GOD, FOR THE GIFT OF LIFE
FOR THE HONOR OF SHARING LIFE WITH THIS CHILD.
WE SEEK YOUR BLESSING ON THIS CHILD, THIS FAMILY, AND THIS COMMUNITY THAT WE MAY BE WORTHY OF THIS INDESCRIBABLE GIFT. AMEN.

Review & Commentary