Last Sunday was a special day for my family. My new grandson was brought to church for the first time following the same kind of practice going back thousands of years. The same practice as when Jesus was brought to the synagogue when he was a baby.
In the Orthodox Christian faith, this process is called “churching”, where the new baby is brought into the church and the church community for the first time, and the mother is blessed and welcomed back to the church after her recovery. This usually takes place when the baby is around 40 days old.
In the past, this amount of time was felt necessary for both mother and child to be ready for the exposure to the world. In this day and age, women and their babies may go out and about earlier on, but the practice has still stayed in place for the baby’s blessing.
The blessing itself takes place at the end of the regular Sunday liturgy. The parents come to the entrance of the church with the new baby. The priest then blesses the baby as well as the mother (no offence to the dads out there, but let’s face it, she did do the hard job!). The baby is handed to the priest who then takes the child down the aisle to the alter. The priest stops at a couple of points along the way to make the sign of the cross with the baby. During this time the priest is saying prayers asking for God’s blessings on the life of the new child.
This is not a baptism, by the way, just an introduction to the church. Usually babies are baptized before their first year, but someone could be baptized at any age. I’m looking forward to seeing my precious grandson be baptized, and I will of course, share all the fun pictures from that, as well!