Perhaps we should start by looking at what being a godparent doesn’t mean! It doesn’t mean that in the unlikely event of an accident in which the parents both died, you would have to take your godson into your home as your own child. That would be the job of grandparents or specially appointed guardians, although no doubt you would want to keep do all you could to help your godchild in such an awful situation.
Being a godparent is basically about helping to look after your godchild’s spiritual needs. In case that freaks you out, don’t worry! The parents are the main people to look after the child in every way including his spiritual needs, so your job is to help in any way you can.
You’ll be hearing some pretty medieval language in the christening service, but what it basically means is that you’ll be promising to help your godchild make a personal relationship with God, through Jesus.
How do you do that? Well, the most important thing is to make your own relationship with your godchild, so that he gets to know you as someone he loves and trusts. Most godparents send a present which is a little bit special on their godchild’s birthdays and at Christmas, and that’s great. But it would be even greater if you could perhaps take him out for a special day once or twice a year.
Maybe you could have him to stay with you, or if that’s impossible, perhaps you could make sure you see him fairly regularly and play with him or read to him. And if that’s impossible, well, maybe you could write to him or text or phone, just to keep in touch with him.
You see, God is love, so if you love your godchild and he feels secure in your love, you’ll be teaching him about God without even realising you’re doing so.
What the service basically means is that you’ll be promising to help your child to make a personal relationship with God, through Jesus.
How do you do that? Well, already you yourselves have a very deep relationship with your child. You care for her in every way and know her needs. But as well as feeding her and keeping her clean and making sure she gets enough sleep, you show her lots of love. You hug her and cuddle her and play with her and read to her and stimulate her mind and her body, and she responds with her love for you and by taking a big interest in her surroundings. This relationship with you and interest in her surroundings immediately tells your daughter about God.
You see, God is love, so as you love your daughter and she feels secure in your love, you’re already teaching her about God without even realising you’re doing so.
These are the promises you and your godparents will make on behalf of your child:
Do you turn to Christ?
I turn to Christ.
Do you repent of your sins?
I repent of my sins.
Do you renounce evil?
I renounce evil.
The baptism service is full of symbolism. A lighted candle symbolises Jesus as the Light of the World (a light which can be found whenever we are in darkness or need help to find our way.) The sign of the cross made on the baptised person's forehead is an invisible badge which every baptised person wears for life and which shows that they belong to Christ. Water is necessary for growth and shows that while we are growing outwardly, we are also growing inwardly, towards God. But just as while we are growing we may fall, while we are growing inwardly we also fall. So water also indicates cleansing. When we get things wrong, God will wash us clean so that we can start again.
But none of this happens by magic. It requires a relationship with God and this is where parents and godparents come in. At the baptism service they promise to help the child form his/her own relationship with God.
If you want to find out more about baptism in the Church of England, or have a look at the service prior to the rehearsal, you can find it on this website: