Initiation Services

    Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child
      Notes  
1
  This service is provided for a number of different occasions:
       
    the private celebration of a birth or adoption, at home or in church with only family and close friends present;
       
        the public celebration of the birth or adoption of a number of children, perhaps in church on a Sunday afternoon;
       
        the public celebration of the birth or adoption of a number of children as part of a main Sunday act of worship.
     
    It is designed to meet the needs of:
       
          parents who see this as a preliminary to Baptism;
       
          parents who do not wish their children to be baptized immediately;
       
          others, who do not ask for Baptism, but who recognize that something has happened for which they wish to give thanks to God.
   
2
In preparing for the service, the minister should consult the Notes and Supplementary Texts to the service of Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child in Common Worship: Pastoral Services. The Supplementary Texts include liturgical greetings, a list of suitable readings and additional prayers.
     
         
  Pastoral Introduction
     
    This may be read by those present before the service begins.
     
    The birth or adoption of a child is a cause for celebration. Many people are overcome by a sense of awe at the creation of new life and want to express their thanks to God. This service provides an opportunity for parents and families to give thanks for the birth or adoption of a child and to pray for family life. It may be a private celebration at home or in hospital, or it may be a public celebration in church, sometimes with a number of children.
     
    This service is not the same as Baptism (sometimes called Christening), which is the sacrament of initiation into membership of the Church, the Body of Christ. If you are interested in exploring the Christian faith, or finding out more about preparation for Baptism, ask the minister taking this service.
     
     
   
Structure
 
  Introduction
  Reading(s) and Sermon
  Thanksgiving and Blessing
  Giving of the Gospel
  Prayers
  Ending
     
     
     
  Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child
     
    Introduction  
     
    The minister welcomes the people using a liturgical greeting (see here) or other suitable words.
     
    A hymn or song may be sung.
     
    The service may be introduced in these or similar words
     
    We are here today to give thanks for these children, with their family and friends, and to support their parents in their responsibilities with prayer and love. God became one of us in Jesus, and understands all that surrounds the arrival and upbringing of children. It is God's purpose that children should know love within the stability of their home, grow in faith, and come at last to the eternal city where his love reigns supreme.
     
    The following may be used
     
    The works of the Lord are great:
All
  his mercy endures for ever.
     
    Mary gave birth to a child and called him Jesus:
All
  he will save his people from their sins.
     
    He will be called the Prince of Peace:
All 
  his kingdom will last for ever.
     
    The minister says
     
    Loving God,
    you hold all things in life
    and call us into your kingdom of peace;
    help us to walk the path of your truth
    and fill our lives with gratitude and faith,
    through Jesus Christ our Lord.
All
  Amen.
     
    Reading(s) and Sermon  
     
    A suitable passage from the Bible is read (see here).
     
    A sermon may be preached.
     
    A hymn may be sung.
     
    Thanksgiving and Blessing  
     
    Where parents wish to recognize the role of supporting friends it may be appropriate for them to stand with the parents at the thanksgiving. One of them may present the children to the minister, and informal words may be said.
     
    The minister says
     
    Do you receive these children as a gift from God?
    We do.
     
    Do you wish to give thanks to God and seek his blessing?
    We do.
     
    The minister says
   
    God our creator,
    we thank you for the wonder of new life
    and for the mystery of human love.
    We thank you for all whose support and skill
    surround and sustain the beginning of life.
    We thank you that we are known to you by name
    and loved by you from all eternity.
    We thank you for Jesus Christ,
    who has opened to us the way of love.
    We praise you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
All
  Blessed be God for ever.
     
    The minister may say for each child
     
    What name have you given this child?
     
    A parent or supporting friend replies
     
    His/her name is N.
     
    The minister may take the child.
     
    The minister says
     
    As Jesus took children in his arms and blessed them,
    so now we ask God's blessing on N.
     
    Heavenly Father, we praise you for his/her birth;
    surround him/her with your blessing
    that he/she may know your love,
    be protected from evil,
    and know your goodness all his/her days.
     
    When all the children have been prayed for
     
All
  May they learn to love all that is true,
    grow in wisdom and strength
    and, in due time, come through faith and baptism
    to the fullness of your grace;
    through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
     
    The minister prays for the parents
     
    May God the Father of all bless these parents
    and give them grace to love and care for their children.
    May God give them wisdom, patience and faith,
    help them to provide for the children's needs
    and, by their example,
    reveal the love and truth that are in Jesus Christ.
All
  Amen.
     
    Giving of the Gospel  
     
    A copy of a Gospel is presented, with these words
     
    Receive this book.
    It is the good news of God's love.
    Take it as your guide.
     
    The minister may address the supporting friends and say
     
    Will you do all that you can to help and support N and N in the bringing up of N?
    With the help of God, we will.
     
    The minister may address the wider family and friends and say
     
    Will you do all that you can to help and support this family?
    With the help of God, we will.
     
   
Prayers
 
     
    This prayer may be said by the parents or by the whole congregation
     
    God our creator,
    we thank you for the gift of these children,
    entrusted to our care.
    May we be patient and understanding,
    ready to guide and to forgive,
    so that through our love
    they may come to know your love;
    through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
    Amen.
     
    The minister may say additional prayers (see here), ending with the Lord's Prayer.
     
    Jesus taught us to call God our Father,
    and so in faith and trust we say
     
All
  Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name,
    your kingdom come,
    your will be done,
    on earth as in heaven.
    Give us today our daily bread.
    Forgive us our sins
    as we forgive those who sin against us.
    Lead us not into temptation
    but deliver us from evil.
    For the kingdom, the power,
    and the glory are yours
    now and for ever.
    Amen.
     
    (or)
     
    Jesus taught us to call God our Father,
    and so we have the courage to say
     
All
  Our Father, who art in heaven,
    hallowed be thy name;
    thy kingdom come;
    thy will be done;
    on earth as it is in heaven.
    Give us this day our daily bread.
    And forgive us our trespasses,
    as we forgive those who trespass against us.
    And lead us not into temptation;
    but deliver us from evil.
    For thine is the kingdom,
    the power and the glory,
    for ever and ever.
    Amen.
     
    Ending  
     
    The minister says one of these or another suitable blessing
     
    The love of the Lord Jesus
    draw you to himself,
    the power of the Lord Jesus
    strengthen you in his service,
    the joy of the Lord Jesus fill your hearts;
    and the blessing of God almighty,
    the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
    be among you and remain with you always.
All
  Amen.
     
    (or)
     
    The Lord bless you and watch over you,
    the Lord make his face shine upon you
    and be gracious to you,
    the Lord look kindly on you and give you peace;
    and the blessing of God almighty,
    the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
    be among you and remain with you always.
All
  Amen.