The newspapers tell me that Harry and Meghan want to have Lilibet baptised into the Church of England, ideally in the private chapel of Windsor Castle; Godparents as yet unnamed.
The Church of England, despite its status as a state church and its enormous property empire, is very much down on its luck, and has to trim with the winds - fortunately, it has a lot of previous experience. So the words it now uses for the Christening Trade aren’t quite those it used back when I was given no choice in 1947. Here are the instructions handed out at the time to my godparents and which would also have been those in place for Prince Charles in 1948:
In the christening service, you will make some big promises to support your godchild throughout their life. You could talk to your own vicar about what these promises mean, or join with your godchild’s parents when they explore what a christening means. If you’re wondering what these promises might look like in practice, or how you can begin, explore our links for some simple ideas.
These are the first things you’ll be asked in the christening service:-
- “Will you pray for them, draw them by your example into the community of faith and walk with them in the way of Christ?”
- “Will you care for them, and help them to take their place within the life and worship of Christ’s Church?”
To the questions above, the parents and godparents answer: “With the help of God we will”.
You will then be asked some questions which you answer on behalf of a child who is too young to answer for themselves:
- You will be asked to turn away from all things that are against God – the wrong in our own lives and to stand against the wrong in the world.
- You will then be asked to turn positively towards Jesus, the companion and guide for the amazing journey ahead.
Alongside your godchild’s parents, you will
- Give your time to your godchild to talk to about the bigger questions of life – questions about hope, faith and love.
- Model and encourage them to develop Christian values – being kind and compassionate towards others, being generous towards others in need with time or money and standing against things in the world that cause injustice and suffering.
- Pray for your godchild through the ups and downs of their life and their faith journey.
- Show them practically how to make good choices in life, for themselves and for others. This might mean talking to them about how to stay healthy, how to resist temptations that can harm us and other people, how to care for God’s amazing world and how to handle peer pressure as they grow older.
- Help them to learn more about the Christian faith, through their church and in other ways. Going to church with them, talking about what the Bible shows us and helping them learn how to pray are all brilliant ways to support your godchild.