On November 6, 2016 The Feast of All Saints (transferred) we will joyfully welcome into the household of God five children and one infant through the sacrament of Holy Baptism. We are elated to welcome them and rejoice with them and their families at this special time!
Do you, or someone you know, also wish to be Baptized? In the Episcopal Church the Sacrament of Holy Baptism is open to people of all ages. A person should be attending St Luke’s for at least three months prior to being Baptized. We celebrate Baptisms on the following days. The Feast of All Saints, Baptism of the Lord (which occurs in January), Easter, Pentecost, and at any time of year during a visitation of the Bishop.
You will choose one or two sponsors. Baptismal sponsors of adults and children should be chosen as someone who will support the newly Baptized in prayer and by example in the Christian life. Sponsors of infants (commonly called godparents) actually make the Baptismal promises or Covenant on the infant’s behalf.
Baptism is the Sacrament of initiation into the Christian Church. It is a covenant or promise to follow Christ. All people, and indeed all of creation, is beloved of God. God does not love us more for being Baptized. Instead Baptism is an opportunity to respond to God’s love by committing to resist evil and be a follower of Christ or a Christian person.
What about Communion?
In the Episcopal Church any Baptized Christian (Baptized in a any denomination) is welcome to receive communion at the celebration of Holy Eucharist. For this reason, the children who are Baptized this November 6 will also receive their first Holy Communion. Sometimes parents choose to have children wait until they are school age to receive communion, but this is not required. It is appropriate to have infants and children come forward with their parent for a blessing and to receive the bread or body of Christ as soon as they reach for it.
I have never experienced young children being irreverent at Communion. Rather they imitate their parents in this unique and holy moment kneeling at the communion rail. In this way there are children who have received communion for along as they can remember. For any reason, it is acceptable and effective to receive only the bread, and not the wine; or both the bread and the wine.
Sometimes parents desire that their children have more formal instruction about the Eucharist. This can take place on an ongoing basis in Sunday School, or in a special class preparing children to receive Holy Communion. But this preparation is not required. This is because understanding is not a prerequisite for receiving Holy Communion. If it were, then we could make the case that none of us really understands fully the deep mystery of the Holy Eucharist. We also create an unnecessary concern for those who may have developmental disabilities or other cognitive problems. It is help-ful to consider, as evidenced in the Gospel, that Jesus would welcome each and every one to the table.
It is the Episcopal and Anglican tradition to partici-pate in worship and communion and in so doing our understanding and thankfulness deepens. In the Anglican Church we repeatedly say “praying shapes believing - ”lex orandi lex credendi”. This is vastly different than saying you must first be-lieve this, and then you can join. Instead, we pray, we worship together, and God transforms us. Come worship with us! - at the end of which we always say:
Thanks be to God.