Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Welcome Sofia Elizabeth Gianino to the Christian Community - Baptismal Rite for the 21st Century

On May 27, 2017, Sofia Elizabeth Gianino was welcomed into the Christian Community by her parents, Mary Anne and Rob, godparents Tricia and Billy and by family and friends. Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP, led the assembled community with the baptismal rite printed below. Welcome, beautiful Sofia!

Rite of Baptism
Sofia Elizabeth Gianino
May 27, 2017
2:30 PM


Mary Theresa: Welcome. It is with great joy that we join with Mary Anne and Rob to welcome their daughter Sofia into the Christian community. Sofia was born on November 19, 2016 at 7:32 PM, and a day later, Mary Ann, Rob and Sofia began their life as a family. Today, we formally welcome Sofia to the Christian Community through the sacrament of Baptism.

Mary Theresa: Let us begin our ceremony with a prayer to the Source of all Life.
O Holy One, you continually remind us that you love your creation by sending us brand new possibilities in the form of daughters and sons.  May Sofia grow in her understanding of your infinite love as she learns the meaning of faith through service. May she come to appreciate her responsible place as co-creator of her life in You. Amen.

Mary Theresa: Introduction to Rite of Baptism
The Rite of Baptism begins with a statement of intent on the part of the parents and godparents. Sofia is too young to speak for herself, so Sofia’s parents, Mary Ann and Rob and her godparents, Tricia and Billy, speak on her behalf.


Reception of the Child

Mary Theresa: I invite Mary Anne, Rob and Sofia to stand with Tricia and Billy.

Mary Theresa: (to the parents) Mary Anne and Rob, what do you ask of this Christian Community?

Mary Anne and Rob: We ask that our daughter, Sofia, be welcomed into the Christian community through the sacrament of Baptism.

Mary Theresa: By asking for Baptism within the Christian community, you are promising to teach Sofia to live justly, to love tenderly and to walk with integrity for all to see and celebrate. You are promising to teach her about her brother, Jesus, and his message of love.  Do you promise to do this to the best of your ability?

Mary Anne and Rob: We do.

Mary Theresa: (to the godparents) Tricia and Billy, do you promise to help Mary Anne and Rob as they teach Sofia about the Source of All Life and about Jesus, our brother?

Tricia and Billy: We do.

Baptismal Ritual

Mary Theresa: In our ritual today, we use many sacramental symbols and signs. We continue the baptismal ritual with a blessing of the water and the oil.

Mary Anne: O Holy One, Source of all that is, we experience your grace through sacramental signs, which tell us of your unseen presence.

Rob: At the dawn of creation, Your Spirit breathed on the waters making them the wellspring of all holiness.

Tricia: The water of the Red Sea, through which our ancestors traveled, is a symbol of our liberation from all that holds us captive. In the waters of the Jordan River, our brother Jesus was baptized by his cousin, John, and anointed with your Spirit.

Billy: After the resurrection, the disciples of Jesus celebrated baptism in water and the Spirit with those who answered Your call to holiness.

Mary Anne: From age to age, oil has been used to anoint the priests, prophets, leaders and visionaries.

Mary Theresa: (to all present)  Please extend your hands in blessing the water and oil .
O Holy One, you call us to be co-creators of a world filled with blessing and abundance. As co-creators with you, we bless this water and oil as a symbol of your grace filled presence in our community.  (pause)

Baptismal Promises

Mary Theresa: In this part of the baptismal ritual, Mary Anne and Rob make baptismal promises for Sofia. I invite anyone who wishes to renew their baptismal promises to respond, “I do,” to each of the following:

Do you promise to see what is good for your sisters and brothers everywhere, rejecting injustice and inequity, living with the freedom and responsibility of children of God?

All: I do.

Mary Theresa: Do you promise to work for the realization of God’s vision of harmony and right relations among all peoples, rejecting the idols of money, property, color, sex and position?

All: I do.

Mary Theresa: Do you promise to seek peace and live in peace in one human family, rejecting prejudice and half-heartedness in every form, and all barriers to unity?

All: I do.

Mary Theresa: Do you promise to cherish the universe, and this precious planet, working creatively to renew and safeguard the elemental sacraments of air, earth, water and fire?

All: I do.

Mary Theresa: Do you believe in the Holy One, the Source of all life, in Jesus, our brother who loved and lived among us so that all might live with abundant fullness; in the breath of the Holy One’s center, the Spirit who continues the work of forgiveness and reconciliation, birthing and blessing, challenge and hope, so that together we can continue the work of creation?

All: I do.

Mary Theresa: Mary Anne, Rob, Tricia and Billy, please bring Sofia to the baptismal font.

Pouring of Water

Mary Theresa: (as Mary Anne and Rob pour water over Sofia’s head)
We baptize you, Sofia
-       in the name of our God who is the Source of all life,
-       in the name of our God revealed in Jesus, our brother, and in our own humanity,
-       in the name of our God whose Spirit invites and inspires us as co-creators. Amen.

Anointing with Oil

Mary Theresa: (as Mary Anne and Rob anoint Sofia’s forehead)
Sofia, you were created in love and welcomed to life with love. We anoint you with this oil in recognition that human love is sacred, that you are sacred.

Presentation of Stole

Mary Theresa: (as Tricia places stole on Sofia) Sofia, we present you with this stole. May it remind you that you carry in the depths of your being the Spirit of Life and Love itself. 

Lighting Candle

MARY THERESA: (as Billy lights Sofia’s candle from Mary Anne and Rob’s candle) Sofia, may this candle remind you of Jesus, who opened peoples’ minds and hearts to see the “light” of God’s presence within them.

Final Blessing

MARY THERESA: Please stand as we pray a blessing for Sofia.

by Mary Anne Nolan Gianino

Tricia: May the Spirit of Air inspire you to see the world through fresh, open eyes, to be a soulful visionary, and to lend optimism and hope to all you encounter.

Billy:  May the Spirit of Fire transform all you touch with Light, and grant you courage and protection as you go forth in your Divine Life Mission.

Mary Anne: May the Spirit of Water bring you purity in body, mind, and spirit to nurture you as you nurture others, to support your inner knowing and intuition as you navigate the seen and unseen worlds.

Rob: May the Spirit of Earth grant you wisdom as you seek Divine Truth, Integrity of thought and action, and fortify you with the strength you need to shine your Divine Light in the physical world as only you can.

Mary Theresa: And May you always remember, the Source of All lives as a Divine Spark within you to inspire, renew, and uplift you and all that you meet along your journey.  Amen.

Presentation of Child to Community

Mary Theresa: (Mary Anne and Rob lift Sofia and present her to the community) It is with great joy that we welcome Sofia Elizabeth to the Christian Community and extended family.

Revised Baptismal Rite created by Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP. Parts of the ceremony were adapted from Michael Morwood's courageous publication, Children Praying a New Story

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