The Church of Scotland offers baptisms (or christenings) to children who have a parent or grandparent who is a member of the Church. At St. Michael’s baptisms are also offered to children when at least one parent intends to become a member of the Church. Baptism is a ceremony of celebration at which a newborn child is blessed by using words, symbols and vows of commitment (promises). The celebration ceremony is an affirmation of love: of God’s love for every human being, of our love for our children, and of the church community’s love for individual families. It is also a statement of belief that life is best lived by following Jesus Christ’s gospel of love, peace, justice and forgiveness. In the Church of Scotland we perform this ceremony and celebration for two reasons. Firstly, we baptise as a sign of our faith. Babies are new born human beings and the baptism ceremony celebrates the Christian belief that no matter who the child is and no matter to whom he or she has been born it is simply by virtue of his or her humanity that he or she is worthy of being loved; he or she is loved by God. Secondly, the baptism ceremony is a mark of our commitment as parents and as a community to love our children in the way that Christians believe that they themselves are loved by God, that is in a way that is mercifully just (forgiving) and peaceful.
When we baptise our children we use words (to express our faith), a symbol (water, as a sign of faith) and vows of commitment (promises based on what we believe). We use words to express our feelings and our beliefs. The minister uses words to explain that God loves the child – that is, that babies are lovable simply by virtue of being born. The minister also explains that, as babies grow up they continue to be loveable even though they, like all of us, have a propensity to be hurtful and harmful to other people. Along with the minister, the parents and the congregation also use words to express their belief that God loves us. Words are also used to express our faith. We use one of the Church’s creed that remind us we are part of an ancient and worldwide church. We use water as a symbol of what we believe. By blessing with water we remember that baptism is derived from an ancient tradition of cleansing. The water, a symbol of purity and cleanliness, symbolises our belief that human beings are born loved by God and no matter who they are or what they might do in the future that love can purify us. We use vows of commitment to promise that by bringing up our children in the Christian faith we will endeavour to teach our children to appreciate that life is best lived by following the gospel of love, merciful justice and peace; the gospel of Jesus Christ. Baptism is very ecumenical. With the exception of the Baptist Church, which practises adult baptism, all churches in the UK accept one another’s understanding of baptism, and they don’t re-baptise people if they join their church from another church.