Rites on the Way: Approaching Baptism

Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child

Note

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.

¶    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

For Notes, see here.

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.

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

All   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.

Supplementary Texts

Liturgical Greetings

In the name of Jesus

who was born to be our Saviour, Christ the Lord,

we welcome you.

Grace, mercy and peace be with you

All   and also with you.

(or)

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the love of God

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

be with you

All   and also with you.

(or)

The Lord be with you

All   and also with you.

Bible Readings

One of these, or another suitable passage from the Bible, is read.

Exodus 20.12

Isaiah 9.2,6–7

Psalm 20

Psalm 128

Psalm 139.7–18

Matthew 1.18–25

Matthew 7.24–27

Matthew 18.1–5

Matthew 18.10–14

Mark 10.13–16

Luke 1.39–45

Luke 2.22–24

Luke 2.33–40

John 1.9–14

Ephesians 3.14–21

Ephesians 6.1–4

1 John 2.12–14

Additional Prayers

Additional prayers may include the following or other suitable prayers.

1   For the child/children

God our Father,

we pray for this child

that in due time

he/she may be received by baptism

into the family of your Church,

and become an inheritor of your kingdom;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All   Amen.

For the home and family

2   Heavenly Father,

whose blessed Son shared at Nazareth

   the life of an earthly home:

bless the home of this child,

and help all the family to live together in your love.

Teach them to serve you and each other,

and make them always ready to show your love

   to those in need;

for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

All   Amen.

3   Father in heaven, bless these parents,

that they may cherish their child;

make them wise and understanding,

to help him/her as he/she grows,

and surround this family

with the light of your truth

and the warmth of your love;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All   Amen.

4   God our Father, we pray to you

   for all who have the care of this child.

Guide them with your Holy Spirit,

that they may bring him/her up

in the ways of truth and love.

Through their care enable him/her to grow in grace

and become daily more like your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ.

All   Amen.

5   For the father

Heavenly Father,

you entrusted your Son Jesus,

the child of Mary,

to the care of Joseph, an earthly father.

Bless N [this man]

as he cares for his family.

Give him strength and wisdom,

   tenderness and patience;

support him in the work he has to do,

protecting those who look to him,

as we look to you for love and salvation,

through Jesus Christ our rock and defender.

All   Amen.

6   For grandparents and other relatives

Father God, from whom every family

   in earth and heaven is named,

we thank you for the rich variety

   of the families you have created for us,

and for the relationships

   which we see and enjoy within them.

Help us to respect and learn from each other,

that we may come to maturity

in Christ Jesus our Lord.

All   Amen.

7   For brothers and sisters

Living God,

we pray for N’s brothers and sisters

and for all whose lives will be changed by his/her arrival;

grant them friendship and love

that their home may be an image of your kingdom;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All   Amen.

8   After a difficult birth

Loving Father,

you have turned pain into joy

by the birth of N [this child].

May N [this mother],

remembering no longer her anguish,

trust you in all things.

As she asks for all she would receive,

may she discover that in you her joy is complete;

through Jesus your Son.

All   Amen.

9   For health workers

Father almighty, we give you thanks

for all concerned with the care of N [this mother]

and the safe birth of N [her child].

We pray for the doctors and nurses,

   midwives and health visitors,

and all who will support the health and welfare of this family

   in the coming years.

May they be filled with your love,

moved by your compassion

and supported by your presence.

We ask this in Jesus’ name.

All   Amen.

10   When a child is adopted

O God of love,

you have made us your children by adoption and grace;

as N becomes a member of this family

bind them together by your grace,

and give them wisdom, joy and faith,

that together they may grow into your love

and serve your purposes of peace;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All   Amen.

11   For the birth parents of an adopted child

Heavenly Father, rich in goodness and mercy,

look with your love on N’s natural father and mother.

Keep them in your good care

and grant them peace;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All   Amen.

12   When a child has special needs

Living God, creator of us all,

we thank you for entrusting N

into the special care of N and N.

Give them and all who surround them

wisdom and understanding, courage and patience;

give them grace to put aside fear and anxiety

and to fulfil your purposes;

fill their hearts with your unfailing love,

that N may grow up secure in giving and receiving love

and in the enjoyment of your presence,

to enrich our lives and the lives of others

in ways beyond our imagining,

in Jesus Christ our Lord.

All   Amen.

Notes

1   To make it clear that the service is one of thanksgiving and not a Baptism, a register shall be kept recording the names of children for whom this thanksgiving service has been conducted, and the family should be given a certificate.

2   The service should be adapted when only one parent is present or to suit particular needs.

3   When several children (from one or more families) have been brought for thanksgiving and blessing, the prayer here may be said for each child or for each family or for all the children, as is most appropriate. The names of the parents and of the child may be used in the prayer for the parents here.

4   Provision is made here of the service for supporting friends or relatives to make a commitment to the child and the family. It may be appropriate for them to stand with the family at the thanksgiving. One of them may present the child to the minister, and informal words may be said.

5   Hymns, songs or carols may be sung at points other than those indicated. If occasion requires, the sermon may be omitted.

Rites Supporting Disciples on the Way of Christ

Contents

Notes

Welcome of Those Preparing for the Baptism of Children

Welcome of Disciples on the Way of Faith

Affirmation of the Christian Way

Call and Celebration of the Decision to be Baptized or Confirmed, or to Affirm Baptismal Faith

The Presentation of the Four Texts

Prayers in Preparation for Baptism

Resources

Traditional Prayers for Use with Learning Groups

Prayers of Intercession

At the Preparation of the Table

At the Dismissal

At the Giving of a Bible

Notes

1   Godparents and Sponsors

The term ‘godparent’ is used for those asked to present children for baptism and to continue to support them. The term ‘sponsor’ is used for those who agree to offer support to candidates of any age for baptism, confirmation or affirmation of baptismal faith on their journey of faith. It is not necessary that a new disciple have the same person as godparent and sponsor. At the Welcome, the new disciple should agree with the minister on a member of the church to be their companion and supporter, and to act as their sponsor. A prayer is provided for the commissioning of godparents and sponsors within the Welcome of Those Preparing for the Baptism of Children (here) and the Welcome of Disciples on the Way of Faith (here).

2   Testimony

The giving of a personal testimony in these rites or in an initiation service is to be encouraged. It is a public opportunity both for the new disciples to express their faith and for the Christian community to be encouraged and enthused to continue to spread the good news of God’s kingdom. Such testimony will affirm the mission of the Church and allow the congregation to learn from the experience of the new disciples. It is important that testimony should be appropriate in length and style and not detract from the rest of the service. If a public act of testimony is not appropriate, a testimony may be given in written form.

3   Giving of Gifts

It may be appropriate, particularly at the Welcome (here) and the Thanksgiving for Holy Baptism (here), to give the new disciple a gift to express the welcome and support of the church community. Depending on the recipient and the nature of the church community, a book, for example a prayer book, may be appropriate. However, in some communities a picture or icon, a cross, carving or sculpture or some other symbol of Christian faith may be a more suitable encouragement for the new disciple.

4   The Giving of the Gospel and the Bible

The giving of a book of Scripture at services of commitment is encouraged. It is suggested that a Gospel is given at the Welcome of Those Preparing for the Baptism of Children (here), if one has not already been given at a Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child. A Gospel may also be given at the Call (here), when it is expected that a new disciple will engage with the Bible, and particularly the life of Jesus, in church, in the group and in personal devotions. It may be appropriate to give a Bible at the Call, or leave the presentation of a Bible to the service of initiation, or to the Thanksgiving for Holy Baptism (here), when the disciple moves into a new relationship with Christ and the Church.

¶    Welcome of Those Preparing for the Baptism of Children

Note

This rite may be used during baptism preparation, or as part of the Sunday service when the child is first brought to church. If it is to be used within a celebration of Holy Communion, it may be used before the prayers of intercession, at the peace, or before the dismissal. It may also be appropriate to invite godparents and sponsors to be present; they may be commissioned during this rite. If a Gospel has not been given at a service of Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child (here) it may be appropriate to give one on this occasion.

Welcome

The minister may address the congregation

Today we welcome N and N, and N and N, who are preparing for the baptism of their children N and N. As the people of God in this place, will you welcome these children and support their families by your prayers and fellowship as they prepare for their children’s baptism?

All   With the help of God, we will.

A large candle is lit.

The minister may ask the parents, godparents and sponsors to come forward with their children and says, in these or other suitable words

We thank God for his presence in your lives

and for the grace that has brought you here today.

Baptism is the sign of new life in Christ. You share with us the responsibility for encouraging these children in the new life that Jesus Christ offers to us all. Will you pray for these children, and help them to grow in the knowledge and love of God and to take their place in the life and worship of the Church?

With the help of God, we will.

The minister says

Eternal and loving God,

you have promised that those who seek will find you;

we pray for your blessing on these families

as they prepare for the baptism of N and N,

that they may walk together in the Way of Christ.

By your grace, may N and N become your children

and take their place within the community of your Church, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All   Amen.

The minister may introduce and commission the godparents and sponsors using these or other suitable words

N and N, you have been asked to nurture these children as they grow in faith.

May God bring you joy as you hold them in his love,

and walk with them on the Way of Christ.

May you be a blessing to one another,

and may the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,

be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

¶    Welcome of Disciples on the Way of Faith

Notes

1   This rite is intended for those who, after an initial exploration of the Christian faith, wish to learn the Christian Way within the life of the people of God. It is not intended for initial enquirers, but for those who want to commit themselves to continuing the journey of faith. One or more members of the Church should be invited to be the companion(s) of each new disciple, and to act as their sponsors. Those sponsors may be commissioned during this rite.

2   The Welcome should be included in an act of public worship, and may be used before the collect, after the sermon or before the peace. The rite might begin outside the church building or at the church door, where the new disciples are welcomed by the Christian community, and particularly by their sponsors, and accompanied into the church in procession.

3   It may be appropriate to give the new disciple a gift to express the welcome and support of the church community (see Note 3 here).

Welcome

The minister may introduce the Welcome in these or similar words

Today it is our joy and privilege to welcome N and N as disciples on the Way of Christ. They are among us as a sign of the journey of faith to which we are all called.

The minister invites the disciples to stand before the people with their sponsors. The sponsors introduce them, and the minister says

We thank God for his presence in your lives

and for the grace that has brought you here today.

We welcome you.

What is it that you seek?

The disciples may reply in their own words, or may say

To learn the Way of Christ.

The minister addresses the congregation

We welcome N and N

in the love and hope of Christ.

Will you support and pray for them,

and learn with them the Way of Christ?

All   With the help of God, we will.

The minister may introduce the sponsors and address them using these or other suitable words

Will you accompany N and N on the journey of faith,

supporting them with friendship, love and prayer?

With the help of God, we will.

The minister may commission the sponsors using these or other suitable words

May God give you the gift of love

to serve N and N whom he loved first.

May God give you the gift of faith

to share the good news of his kingdom.

May God give you the gift of joy

as you journey together with Jesus our Lord.

And may the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,

be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

The minister then addresses each candidate separately or the group together

Will you receive the sign of the cross,

as a mark of Christ’s love for you

as you explore his Way?

I will.

The minister makes the sign of the cross on the forehead of each candidate. The sponsors may be invited to sign the candidates with the cross. The minister says

Receive the sign of the cross.

May Christ our Redeemer,

who claims you for his own,

deliver you from evil and guide you on the Way.

Where a candidate is already baptized, the minister uses these words

Receive the sign of the cross.

May Christ our Redeemer,

who in your baptism claimed you for his own,

protect and guide you.

Prayer may be offered for each new disciple. After all have been prayed with, the minister says this or a similar prayer. It may be said over each disciple or the whole group.

God of life,

you give us the gift of faith.

Guide N and N by your wisdom

and surround them with your love.

Deepen their knowledge of Christ

and set their feet on the Way that leads to life.

May your people uphold them in love,

find in them a sign of hope,

and learn with them the Way of Christ.

All   Amen.

A gift expressing welcome to the new disciple from the congregation may be given.

¶    Affirmation of the Christian Way

Note

This may be used in public worship when special significance is being given to the presence of disciples on the Way, for example at the Welcome or the Call. It may also be suitable in informal settings as an introduction or reminder about the shape of the Way. Where appropriate, it may be led by two or three people.

Affirmation of the Christian Way

As we follow the Way of Christ,

we affirm the presence of God among us,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

God calls us to share in worship.

Jesus said, where two or three are gathered in my name,

I am there among them.

All   Jesus, you are the Way: guide us on our journey.

God calls us to share in prayer.

Jesus said, remain in me, and I will remain in you.

All   Jesus, you are the Way: guide us on our journey.

God calls us to share the Scriptures.

Jesus met his disciples on the road

and opened the Scriptures to them.

All   Jesus, you are the Way: guide us on our journey.

God calls us to share in communion.

Jesus said, do this in remembrance of me.

All   Jesus, you are the Way: guide us on our journey.

God calls us to share in service.

Jesus said, as you do it for the least of these, you do it for me.

All   Jesus, you are the Way: guide us on our journey.

God calls us to share the good news.

Jesus said, go and make disciples of all nations.

All   Jesus, you are the Way: guide us on our journey.

¶    Call and Celebration of the Decision to be Baptized or Confirmed or to Affirm Baptismal Faith

Notes

1   The Call is intended for those who wish to continue on the Way, following a period of exploration and regular involvement in the Christian community.

2   The Call should be included in an act of public worship, and may be used before the collect, after the sermon or before the peace.

3   At the Signing with the Cross, a priest may anoint the candidate with pure olive oil, reflecting the practice of athletes preparing for a contest. It is appropriate that the oil should be that consecrated by the bishop for Signing with the Cross. If oil is used, care should be taken that the candidates understand the symbolism and significance of anointing. When a candidate for baptism is anointed during the Call, oil is not used for the Signing with the Cross in Baptism; however, oil mixed with fragrant spices (traditionally called chrism), expressing the blessings of the messianic era and the richness of the Holy Spirit, is used to accompany the prayer after the baptism, if it is not to be used at confirmation.

4   Where a disciple has already been baptized, the second form is used at the Signing with the Cross.

Call and Celebration

The minister may introduce the Call in these or similar words

Today it is our joy and privilege to welcome N and N, disciples with us on the Way of Christ.

They are among us as a sign of the journey of faith to which we are all called.

The minister invites the disciples to stand before the people with their sponsors. The disciples are presented to the congregation by their sponsors, and some words of personal commendation may be said. The minister says

We thank God for his presence in your lives

and for the grace that has brought you here today.

What is it that you seek?

The disciples may reply in their own words, or may say

To follow the Way of Christ.

The minister may ask the sponsors to confirm the candidates’ commitment to worship, prayer and the fellowship of the Church, and their readiness to study and to understand their story as part of the people of God. The names of those who seek initiation may be added to a book dedicated for that purpose.

The minister then addresses each candidate separately or the group together

Will you receive the sign of the cross

as a mark of Christ’s love for you

as you explore his Way?

I will.

The minister makes the sign of the cross on the forehead of each candidate. The sponsors may be invited to sign the candidates with the cross. The minister says

Receive the sign of the cross.

May Christ our Redeemer,

who claims you for his own,

deliver you from evil and guide you on the Way.

Where a candidate is already baptized, the minister uses these words

Receive the sign of the cross.

May Christ our Redeemer,

who in your baptism claimed you for his own,

protect and guide you.

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 candidates remain in front of the congregation for the prayers of intercession. This or other similar forms may be used (see here).

N and N, who are our brothers and sisters, have already travelled a long road. We rejoice with them in the gentle guidance of God. Let us pray that they may press onwards, until they come to share fully in the Way of Christ.

May God the Father reveal his Christ to them more and more with every passing day.

Lord, in your mercy

All   hear our prayer.

May they undertake with generous hearts and souls whatever God may ask of them.

Lord, in your mercy

All   hear our prayer.

May they have our sincere and unfailing support every step of the way.

Lord, in your mercy

All   hear our prayer.

May their hearts and ours become more responsive to the needs of others.

Lord, in your mercy

All   hear our prayer.

In due time may they come to baptism / to confirmation / to reaffirm their baptismal faith, and receive the renewal of the Holy Spirit. Lord, in your mercy

All   hear our prayer.

¶    The Presentation of the Four Texts

Note

In order to give shape to their discipleship, all baptized Christians should be encouraged to explore these four texts and make them their own: the Summary of the Law, the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Beatitudes. The texts may be presented on cards or found in personal Bibles, either within a study group or in public worship, possibly after the sermon.

Jesus’ Summary of the Law

One of the following or other readings may be used

Exodus 20.1–19; Leviticus 19.9–18; Romans 8.1–4; Romans 13.8–10; Galatians 5.13,14; Mark 12.28–34

One of the following psalms may be used

Psalm 1; 15; 119.9–16; 119.97–104

The minister addresses those who are disciples on the Way of faith

Brothers and sisters, listen carefully to the words that Jesus gave us as a summary of the law. These few words help us understand how we are to live as human beings in God’s world. They are given not to condemn us but to show how by the grace of God we may live as free people reflecting the goodness and love of God.

The Summary of the Law is read

Our Lord Jesus Christ said:

The first commandment is this:

‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,

with all your soul, with all your mind,

and with all your strength.’

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’

There is no other commandment greater than these.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

God of truth,

help us to keep your law of love

and to walk in ways of wisdom,

that we may find true life

in Jesus Christ your Son.

All   Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

One of the following or other readings may be used

1 Kings 8.27–30; Hosea 11.1–4; Romans 8.14–17, 26, 27; Galatians 4.4–7; Matthew 6.7–13; Luke 11.1–4

One of the following psalms may be used

Psalm 23; 103.6–18

The minister addresses those who are disciples on the Way of faith

Brothers and sisters, listen carefully to the Lord’s Prayer. It is given to us as a pattern for our praying as well as a prayer that we can make our own. It teaches us that heaven is open to our prayers and that the world is open to the gracious working of God.

The Lord’s Prayer is read in the form which is commonly used by the congregation.

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)

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.

The minister says

Lord of heaven and earth,

as Jesus taught his disciples to be persistent in prayer,

give us patience and courage never to lose hope,

but always to bring our prayers before you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All   Amen.

The Apostles’ Creed

One of the following or other readings may be used

Deuteronomy 6.1–7; Deuteronomy 26.1–10; Romans 10.8–13; 1 Timothy 6.11–16; 2 Timothy 1.8–14; Matthew 16.13–18; John 12.44–50

One of the following psalms may be used

Psalm 78.1–7; 145.1–9

The minister addresses those who are disciples on the Way of faith

Brothers and sisters, listen carefully to this declaration of faith, which the Church calls the Apostles’ Creed. Christians have said this together since the earliest centuries, especially at baptism, where we confess that Jesus is our Lord and Saviour. It speaks of our belief in God’s love for the world, in creation, in incarnation and in salvation.

The Apostles’ Creed is read

I believe in God, the Father almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the Virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried;

he descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again;

he ascended into heaven,

he is seated at the right hand of the Father,

and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting.

Amen.

The minister says

Holy God,

faithful and unchanging:

enlarge our minds with the knowledge of your truth,

and draw us more deeply into the mystery of your love,

that we may truly worship you,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

All   Amen.

The Beatitudes – Blessings of the Gospel

One of the following or other readings may be used

Isaiah 2.2–4; Isaiah 11.1–10; Ephesians 3.7–13; 2 Corinthians 8.9; 1 John 3.1–3; Revelation 21.22–27; Mark 4.30–32

One of the following psalms may be used

Psalm 72.1–14; 87; 122

The minister addresses those who are disciples on the Way of faith

Brothers and sisters, listen carefully to these words from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In them he declares the blessings of God’s kingdom. He gives us a vision of a world redeemed by love, and the qualities of discipleship which will bring about that transformation.

The Beatitudes are read from either Matthew 5.3–10 or Luke 6.20–23

Matthew 5.3–10

Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,

for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,

for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,

for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,

for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are those who suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

(or)

Luke 6.20–23

Blessed are you who are poor,

for yours is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are you who are hungry now,

for you will be filled.

Blessed are you who weep now,

for you will laugh.

Blessed are you when people hate you,

and when they exclude you, revile you,

and defame you on account of the Son of Man.

Rejoice in that day and leap for joy,

for surely your reward is great in heaven;

for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.

The minister says

Almighty God,

you search us and know us:

may we rely on you in strength

and rest on you in weakness,

now and in all our days;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All   Amen.

¶    Prayers in Preparation for Baptism

Note

These prayers may be used as part of baptism preparation, within a study group, or on the evening before the baptism either at home or in church.

Prayers in Preparation for Baptism

Candles may be lit.

Blessed are you, sovereign God of all;

you lead us from death to life.

In baptism you create a new people,

cleansing us from sin,

consecrating us to service,

and transferring us from the dominion of darkness

into the kingdom of your beloved Son,

where with all your people, we may know your grace

and proclaim your unchanging glory.

Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

All   Blessed be God for ever.

Two or three short readings may be read, interspersed with silence or appropriate music. The readings may be drawn from those of the season or may reflect the particular circumstances of the candidates and their families. Other possible readings include

Matthew 3.13– 4.2; Mark 1.1–8; John 3.1–6; Romans 6.3–5;

Romans 8.14–17; Colossians 1.9–14; Colossians 3.1–14; 1 Peter 1.3–9

A period of reflection and prayer follows.

The Lord who called us has called us by name.

All   Father of all, renew us and bring us life.

The Lord who formed us has also redeemed us.

All   Jesus, light of the world, love us and bring us life.

When we pass through fire and water, the Lord will be with us.

All   Spirit of God, lead us and bring us life.

We shall not be overwhelmed,

for the Lord God is our saviour.

All   Creator, redeemer, sustainer, bring us life. Amen.

(or)

Lord God, in the beginning you called forth light

to dispel the darkness that lay upon the face of the deep.

Deliver your servants from the powers of evil

and enlighten us with your presence,

that with open eyes and glad hearts

we may worship you and serve you,

now and for ever.

All   Amen.

Lord Christ, true light of the world,

shine, we pray, in the hearts of your people,

that we might see the Way that leads to eternal life,

and follow without stumbling;

for you are the Way, O Christ,

as you are the Truth and the Life.

All   Amen.

Come, Holy Spirit, come;

come as wind, come as fire.

Convict, convert and consecrate our hearts and minds,

to our great good, and to your great glory;

who with the Father and the Son are one God,

now and for ever.

All   Amen.

The people may be invited to add their own prayers.

The Lord’s Prayer is said (see here).

The prayers conclude with

Gracious God,

whose faithfulness never fails,

may those who seek find the kingdom,

those who knock see an opened door,

those who ask receive the gift of new life

which you offer freely to all

in Jesus Christ.

All   Amen.

Let us bless the Lord.

All   Thanks be to God.

Resources

Being welcomed as a disciple begins a journey of exploration of the Christian Way; central to that journey is regular reflection in a group that explores different aspects of Christianity. The disciple may meet with a group during the week, perhaps following a course, or a group may leave the regular congregation during the normal service before the sermon. It is important that the congregation prays regularly for those exploring the Christian Way and is encouraged to see them as models of Christian learning.

New disciples should be helped and encouraged into a daily, sustaining discipline of prayer and reflection on Scripture. Therefore, it may be appropriate for a regular group to use Prayer during the Day or Morning or Evening Prayer from Common Worship: Daily Prayer. At the appropriate time either might include the Presentation of the Four Texts (here).

¶    Traditional Prayers for Use with Learning Groups

These traditional prayers are taken from Prayer During the Day.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

from St Patrick’s Breastplate

Eternal God,

the light of the minds that know you,

the joy of the hearts that love you,

and the strength of the wills that serve you:

grant us so to know you

that we may truly love you,

so to love you that we may truly serve you,

whose service is perfect freedom;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

after Augustine of Hippo (430)

Eternal light, shine into our hearts,

eternal goodness, deliver us from evil,

eternal power, be our support,

eternal wisdom, scatter the darkness of our ignorance,

eternal pity, have mercy upon us;

that with all our heart and mind and soul and strength

we may seek your face and be brought by your infinite mercy to your holy presence,

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Alcuin of York (804)

God be in my head, and in my understanding;

God be in my eyes, and in my looking;

God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;

God be in my heart, and in my thinking;

God be at mine end, and at my departing.

Sarum Primer

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you

for all the benefits you have won for us,

for all the pains and insults you have borne for us.

Most merciful redeemer,

friend and brother,

may we know you more clearly,

love you more dearly,

and follow you more nearly,

day by day.

after Richard of Chichester (1253)

O gracious and holy Father,

give us wisdom to perceive you,

diligence to seek you,

patience to wait for you,

eyes to behold you,

a heart to meditate upon you,

and a life to proclaim you,

through the power of the Spirit

of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Benedict of Nursia (c. 550)

O Lord our God,

grant us grace to desire you with our whole heart;

that so desiring, we may seek and find you;

and so finding, may love you;

and so loving, may hate those sins from which you have delivered us;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Anselm (1109)

A prayer before Bible reading

O Lord, you have given us your word

for a light to shine upon our path.

Grant us so to meditate on that word,

and to follow its teaching,

that we may find in it the light

that shines more and more until the perfect day;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

after Jerome (420)

¶    Prayers of Intercession

In the power of the Spirit let us pray to the Father, through Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

We pray for all who follow the Way of Christ

and for the unity of all Christian people;

break down that which separates us from one another and from you,

that knowing your forgiveness we may share your love with a needy world.

Lord, hear us.

All   Lord, graciously hear us.

We pray for those who hold positions of responsibility and power

both internationally and in our local communities;

may your Holy Spirit guide them in their decision-making,

so that paths of truth and justice may be open to everyone.

Lord, hear us.

All   Lord, graciously hear us.

We give you thanks and pray

for all who support and care for us as we follow the Way of Christ,

our families and friends,

and our fellow pilgrims along the way;

nourish us all with the words of life and the bread of heaven,

that we may worship you joyfully,

listen to you willingly

and serve you gladly.

Lord, hear us.

All   Lord, graciously hear us.

We pray for those who,

through sickness, misfortune or abuse,

feel that their lives are without meaning or direction;

surround them with your love,

and give wisdom and patience to all who support and guide them.

Lord, hear us.

All   Lord, graciously hear us.

We thank you for the fullness of life you give us in Jesus Christ,

and for all whose lives have been an example of your truth and life for us;

may our communion with them, and with all the saints,

nourish and support us on our earthly pilgrimage.

Lord, hear us.

All   Lord, graciously hear us.

(or)

Surround with your love those exploring the Way of Christ

and set their feet on the way that leads to life.

May your people learn with them the Way of Christ

and find in them a sign of hope.

Lord, in your mercy

All   hear our prayer.

Guide with your wisdom

those who have heard the call to seek the way of life

and deepen their knowledge and love of Christ.

Lord, in your mercy

All   hear our prayer.

Give your grace to those whom we have welcomed

as learners in the Way of Christ

and grant them the wisdom that leads to life in Christ.

Lord, in your mercy

All   hear our prayer.

Support with your grace and protection

all who have set themselves to learn the Way of Christ,

that they may know your love

and be a source of life to others.

Lord, in your mercy

All   hear our prayer.

(or)

God of all time and space, one God in Trinity,

turn your ear to hear us as we pray.

Hear us, Lord.

All   Hear us, Lord, and all your pilgrim Church.

Guiding Israel with fire and cloud,

you led your chosen people from captivity to the promised land.

We pray for guidance as we search out the Way,

and wisdom for those struggling to find it.

Guide us, Lord.

All   Guide us, Lord, and all your pilgrim Church.

Revealed in burning bush and in mountain cloud,

you gave the law, and taught your people.

We ask that, learning from the Scriptures,

we may grow in love for you and for one another.

Teach us, Lord.

All   Teach us, Lord, and all your pilgrim Church.

Father, you sent your Son in human frailty;

in the garden, he accepted the cup of death.

We pray for strength to meet the challenges before us,

and remember those who have inspired your Church to faith …

Strengthen us, Lord.

All   Strengthen us, Lord, and all your pilgrim Church.

Jesus, healer of the sick,

worker of miracles, friend of the outcast;

we ask for grace to care

for our neighbours throughout the world;

especially we pray for …

Sustain us, Lord.

All   Sustain us, Lord, and all your pilgrim Church.

Holy Spirit, living breath of living God,

you inspired the apostles to preach good news.

Help us to bear witness to your love

with cheerful hearts and constant courage.

Inspire us, Lord.

All   Inspire us, Lord, and all your pilgrim Church.

Loving Father of all creation,

loving Saviour in form of a servant,

loving Spirit, present among us,

God of all time and space, one God in Trinity,

we offer up our prayers to you.

Hear us, Lord.

All   Hear us, Lord, and all your pilgrim Church.

¶    At the Preparation of the Table

Adults, young people and children may bring forward the gifts and help with the preparation of the table. They then lead the congregation in the prayer at the preparation of the table.

With this bread that we bring

All   we shall remember Jesus.

With this wine that we bring

All   we shall remember Jesus.

Bread for his body,

wine for his blood,

gifts from God to his table we bring.

All   We shall remember Jesus.

¶    At the Dismissal

Adults, young people and children may lead the following

To a troubled world

peace from Christ.

To a searching world

love from Christ.

To a waiting world

hope from Christ.

¶    At the Giving of a Bible

Receive this Bible.

Hear God’s word with us.

Learn and tell its stories.

Rejoice in its good news.

Discover its mysteries.

Honour its commandments.

May God’s life-giving word be sweeter to you than honey

and lead you in the Way of Christ.