At key points in our life we come to major events or milestones - significant important events that may be marked by a party, a ceremony, or a particular service in church. These important events are known as life events or ‘rites of passage’. We celebrate the birth of a child, deciding to be a Christian for ourselves, getting married and even death.
Baptism is where we welcome someone as a member into the Christian Church and can take place as a baby or as an adult. It is the sign that someone belongs to Christ and that is why baptism is sometimes known as christening. This rite of passage is the beginning of a new life. When somebody is baptised the minister pours water on his or her head and draws a cross in special oil on their forehead, as a sign of the new life with Christ. A candle is lit during the service, and the light from the candle shows that baptism is a symbol of a person moving from darkness into light.
During the baptism of babies and toddlers, certain promises are made by the parents and godparents on behalf of the child.
Confirmation is a public statement of belonging to the Christian Community. If you were baptised as a baby it is a way for you to say for yourself what was said for you at your baptism. You now have to make your own promises before God about choosing to live as a Christian. The important outward sign at a confirmation service is the laying on of hands by a bishop pointing to the Holy Spirit coming down upon you and the touch of God on your life. The bishop may also anoint you with oil.
Before you can be confirmed you will go to special confirmation classes. Here you will learn about the Holy Communion service and what it means.
A wedding is a great moment in life – joyous, but also solemn as two people promise to be with one another until the end of their lives. In a wedding service the bride and groom enter separately but leave the church together as a married couple. Just as in baptism we have the visible sign of water with spoken words so in marriage we have the visible sign of joined hands with spoken words. A ring or rings worn on a particular finger is further physical evidence of a new life that has begun.
A funeral service marks the end of a human life on earth on earth, the end of a journey. It is the time for friends and family to express their sadness, to give thanks for the life of the person who has died, to celebrate their life and to commend the person into God's keeping.