It is wonderful that you have been asked to be a Godparent for a child. It is a joy and a privilege to become part of their family. It is also a responsibility and you will be asked to make some serious promises.
You may well have many questions about what being a Godparent involves, and it is hoped that we can answer them here. But if you would like to discuss it further please do get in touch. click here.
The Baptism Service
Baptism is the first step of a journey of faith, and as a godparent you will be one of the most important people to accompany your godchild on that journey. That is why godparents themselves must have been baptised (either as a baby or as an adult) and may also have been confirmed too – it shows that you too, are on the same journey, if a little further ahead, and so are well placed to help your godchild develop in their faith and come to know God for themselves. (Christening and Baptism are different words for the same thing - and Baptism in any church is recognised.)
If you have been asked to be a godparent and are not baptised, talk to the Vicar. You can still be involved in the service but you need to be aware of the promises being made. It's possible that the service will lead you to consider being baptised yourself and the Vicar can help you with that too.
In the Baptism service we use three main symbols; the cross, water and a lighted candle. All three are used to symbolise that the child is now a member of God’s church and is intending to follow a Christian life, with the help and support of their Parents and Godparents, and with the prayers and support of the whole church community.
The Cross is the sign of Jesus Christ, the maker’s mark if you like. We make the sign of the cross on the child’s forehead to show that they now belong to Christ. We use holy oil, blessed and shared with other churches across the diocese. That event takes pace on the same day as similar services globally. So through this symbol we are linked with thousands, millions, in fact billions of other Christians world-wide. While it is an outward sign, this symbol is also invisible. because being a Christian is about what goes on in our hearts and minds more than about wearing a badge.
Water is essential for all life. We use it for refreshment, for growing food to sustain us, for washing ourselves clean. These properties of renewall and cleansing are at the heart of the Christian use of water in baptism. Water plays a significant role in many key events in our bible too. Travelling through or across water physically and symbolically are all part of the journey of God's chosen people and their spiritual journey with him. The water under the earth was thought of as a place of the dead. Travelling through it leads to new life. With all these associations, in baptism, water is blessed and a little is poured over the Child’s head, to signify being born again into a new life with Christ.
A Candle is lit and given to the child to remind us all that Jesus Christ is the light of the world. Handing over that light is both a celebration and a challenge to the individual, and those who help raise them, to be like the light of Christ in the world. With other Christians we can work to bring love to the world; we can shine light into dark places. Maybe on the anniversary of their Baptism you could light the candle together and remember the celebration and also the promises you made?
To look at the Baptism Promises in more detail, click here.
The promises that you will make during the service as a Godparent last a lifetime, and take three main forms.
Prayer: You promise to pray regularly for your Godchild, their parents and all who will influence them as they grow up. You also pray for their home, that it will always be a place of love, security and truth. And you promise to pray that they will grow up knowing Jesus Christ.
Example: You also will promise to lead by example and this will happen whether we want it to or not! Your own beliefs about life, and about God, will be picked up by your godchild. Maybe you could bring them to church, when you can, and take part in worship together?
Teaching: As a Godparent you will also promise to teach your godchild about matters of faith and God; you promise to help lead them on their journey of faith. This may involve helping them say their prayers, and helping them to lead a Christian life. If you are not a regular churchgoer this may be an opportunity for you to review your own relationship with God and the church.