The birth of a baby is a joyous event in the life of a family. And a blessing and naming ceremony is an opportunity for family and friends to gather together to give thanks and welcome the child into their hearts and lives. It is a time to offer blessings to the baby and receive the gift of this new life.
What is the difference between a blessing and naming ceremony and a Christening?
A Christening is the specific welcoming of a baby or child into the Christian Church. When the child has become a teenager they can then choose to be confirmed in their Christian faith. A baby naming and blessing ceremony does not preclude a Christening. But it also leaves a child open to consciously choose any religious path that they want later in life.
God parents or spiritual guardians.
Godparents are a wonderful way of augmenting your sense of family and deepening your friendships. It is so lovely for the child to have a special aunty or uncle to talk to and take an interest in their lives as they are growing up. You can help the godparents be involved by inviting them to family events, birthdays or your child’s school festivals. At the baby blessing I encourage parents to invite their chosen godparents to offer a poem or prayer or song. It gives them a strong experience of the commitment they are making together with speaking their commitment to the child.
“We hold you in our hearts that love’s warmth will always surround you, and in our thoughts that love’s light will always guide you”.
Parents and Grandparents
This is a time for parents to receive, to feel blessed and held by the love of their family and friends and guidance by me as their minister. For grandparents it is a chance to feel honoured and renew their commitment to love and care for their new grandchild and whole family.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
It is never too late to bless a child
An aspect of my work developed in a very beautiful and surprising way through the response of older children watching me bless a baby. The first time it was a nine year old boy who knew he had not been Christened even though his three older siblings had been. The second time it was a twelve year old girl. In each case, at different baby blessing ceremonies, they turned to their mother and said:~ “ I want that for me”.
And indeed I have found that it is never too late to name and bless a child. In fact, it can be extremely healing and supportive, especially if Mum and Dad no longer live together.
Know what it is to be a Child
It is to be sometning very different from the man of today.
It is to have a spirit yet streaming from the waters of baptism;
it is to believe in love, to believe in loveliness, to believe in belief
it is to be so little that the elves can reach to whisper in your ear,
it is to turn pumpkins into coaches, and mice into horses,
lowness into loftiness, and nothing into everything,
for each child has its own fairy godmother in its own soul;
it is to live in a nutshell and to count yourself the king of infinite space.
by Francis Thompson 'Essay on Shelley'
Where to hold such a ceremony?
Blessing and naming ceremonies can be held anywhere. Most people choose their own home, or a beautiful meeting room they can rent locally. The shelter of a yurt is an increasingly popular choice. These can be put up in small (or large!) gardens and some are permanently erected and the family party can go to that venue, for example in Stanmer Park in Brighton. The most popular time to have a blessing and naming ceremony is at the weekend, either at midday followed by a special lunch, or in the mid afternoon, followed by a wonderful tea!
The cost of creating a tailor made blessing and naming ceremony, being available for support and consultation throughout the process leading up to the day, and being the celebrant on the day, is between £250 and £320,depending on circumstances, or number of siblings begin blessed, plus travel costs (40p per mile for petrol), or accommodation overnight if required. Included in the fee, I also create a beautiful folder of the ceremony that will be there for your child to keep, and give ribbon bound copies to the godparents, to help remind them of the special place they now have in your child’s life.