Friday, January 08, 2016

A Modern Version of the 1874 Order for the Baptism of Infants of the Reformed Episcopal Church

I have modernized and simplified the language of the Order for the Administration of Baptism to Infants in the 1874 Book of Common Prayer of the Reformed Episcopal Church, incorporating some textual material and rubrics from the unpublished An American Prayer Book (2009) while preserving the original doctrine of the rite.

When Baptism is administered at a stated Service, it shall be immediately after the second Lesson.

Infants to be baptized must be presented by their parents, when practicable, and one, at least, of the persons presenting must be a communicant of this or of some other Evangelical Church.

The minister welcomes those who have brought children to be baptized. The minister addresses the congregation.

Here the word of our Lord Jesus Christ as recorded in the tenth chapter of Mark's gospel verses 13-16:

People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them,
but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands upon them and blessed them.

The congregation may be seated, and the minister continues

We hear in these words that our Savior Christ commands children to be brought to him. He rebukes those who keep them from him and he exhorts us to show childlike trust. The way he welcomes little children and embraces and blesses them shows his good will toward them. Be assured therefore that he looks with favor on the dedication of this child to him. Therefore we pray:

Almighty and immortal God, our ever-present help in times of need, the life of those who believe, and the resurrection of the dead; in your abundant mercy, we beseech you to receive this infant now to be baptized: Grant him the forgiveness of his sins, and so fill him with your Holy Spirit that he may grow in grace and godliness, and being steadfast in faith, joyful through hope, and rooted in love, may continue yours forever; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then the minister says,

You have brought this child here to be baptized.You have prayed that our Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord, would receive him, forgive him, sanctify him with the Holy Spirit, and give him the kingdom of Heaven and everlasting life:

I ask, therefore,

Do you sincerely and without reservation believe all the Articles of the Christian Faith, as contained in the Apostles' Creed?

Answer. We do.

Do you acknowledge the obligation, as far as in you lies, to provide, that this child will be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, that he will be diligently instructed in the Holy Scriptures, and that he will be taught the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and all other things which a Christian ought to know and believe for the wellbeing of his soul?

Answer. We do.

Then the minister says,

Merciful God, grant that the old Adam in this child may be buried and that he may be raised up a new man in Christ. Amen.

Grant that the sinful desires of the flesh may die in him, and that all things belonging to the Spirit may live and grow in him. Amen.

Grant that he may have power and strength to have victory, and to triumph against the devil, the world, and the flesh. Amen.

Grant that all who are dedicated to you in Baptism, may also be endued with heavenly virtues, and everlastingly rewarded, through your mercy, blessed Lord, for you live and govern all things, now and forever. Amen.

Almighty, ever-living God, your Son Jesus Christ commanded his disciples to go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Give heed, we beseech you, to our supplications, and grant that this child, now to be baptized, may receive the fullness of your grace, and ever remain in the number of your faithful children; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The minister then takes the child, and having asked the child’s name, he baptizes the child. The minister dips the child in the water, or pours water on the child, saying

N, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

The minister continues

We receive this child into the congregation of Christ's Flock. (Here the minister may make the sign of the cross upon on the child's forehead, if it is desired, and add “and sign him with the sign of the cross. We pray, etc.”) 

We pray that he will not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified; to fight bravely under his banner, against sin, the world, and the devil, and to continue Christ's faithful soldier and servant until the end of his life. Amen.

Then the parents or other sponsors join the minister in saying this prayer,

We give you humble thanks, Heavenly Father, that you have led us to dedicate this child to you in baptism; and we humbly pray that your grace may enable us to bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Saviour. Amen.

Then the minister says,

As you have promised to bring up this child in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord, you are to always keep in mind the solemn obligation you have assumed. Take care that this child is brought up to lead a godly and a Christian life. Remember always that Baptism represents to us our profession; which is to follow the example of our Savior Christ, and to be made like him; that as he died, and rose again for us; so should we, who are baptized, die from sin, and rise again to righteousness; continually putting to death all our evil desires, and daily going forward in all virtue and godliness of living.

In the private ministration of Baptism this service may be used, or any portion of it, as the minister may think best, provided that the prayer beginning: with, “Almighty, everliving God, etc.,” to the end of the formula, is used.

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