The font looks like an overgrown birdbath. Babies and children are christened with water which is help in the font. The water is blessed and it is used to make the sign of the cross on the baby’s forehead. The vicar prays for the child, that he or she may be protected from evil, then he asks the child’s name. He then says ‘I baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen’
He gives a lighted candle to the baby - a godparent or parent holds it for him or her. He says ‘Receive this light. This is to show that you have passed form darkness into light’. This reminds us that Jesus said ‘I am the light of the world’. He then prays for the baby’s family, and their home that it may be a place of love, security and trust.
This font dates back to the middle-ages. It is made out of stone and is lined with lead. In the bottom is a drain hole to let the water out once it is finished with. The cover was given in 1899 in memory of David Exley, who was clerk and sexton of this parish for 41 years. If you look up to the ceiling above the font you can just make out the fixing point for the pulley which the old font cover was attached to,. This would have been an ornate wooden structure like a church spire but with carvings and a lock to prevent people taking away the holy water.
In the middle ages water was blessed or made holy at the Easter vigil service, the day before Easter day. Now we bless the water before it is used in each christening or baptism service.
Why do we christen or baptize babies?
Jesus was baptised by his cousin John in the river Jordan. Although he was a very special person who showed us what God was like and was without sin, Jesus identified himself with human beings the need to turn away from bad thoughts and actions.
It is a very British attitude to think that babies and children are incapable of doing things wrong (the Bible calls this sin). The Church teaches that everyone has sinned and fallen short in God’s eyes. In the early Church whole families were baptised , and this would have included babies and children. Human beings share a tendency to do wrong and harm others, the Bible calls this sin, and Christians try to live a better life after they are Church members than before it.
What happens in a christening?
The parents and godparents - who incidentally must all have been baptised themselves, and who ought to have been confirmed , tell the vicar that they believe in God who made himself known as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They ask God to bless the child and make him or her a member of his Church. The Vicar prays for the child and we believe that God answers those prayers.
The child is welcomed as a member of the Church and the parents and godparents promise they will bring the child up as a Christian and will bring them to Church.
When do christenings happen?
Normally christenings are in a family service at 10.45am on a Sunday.
The Vicar explains the Bible readings in a talk called ‘the sermon’. Some vicars give long talks, others give short sermons. Some are boring, others are interesting. The sermon is preached from the pulpit so that people can see and hear him better. Notice the microphone in the pulpit. Notice also the lights so he can read his sermon. The vicar does not preach from the pulpit to be ‘six feet above contradiction’, but so that he can see people and be seen by them. Normally only the Vicar or lay reader can preach, but the vicar allows others to preach on his behalf, especially members of the Wakefield Ministry Scheme, and pastoral visitors. The sermon can include an activity, visual aids, dance or drama, or even group discussion. Occasionally the congregation are expected to speak to each other about their faith, but this is not a common occurrence, and we keep that to Bible Study Groups for those who wish to do so, realising that many folk are a little shy, or prefer a more traditional service.
The sermon can include an activity, visual aids, dance or drama, or even group discussion.