Coming up in a couple weeks is the First Sunday of Epiphany, which is one of the four traditional Baptismal occasions of the church year.  I say “four traditional occasions,” but take that concept gently: any day is a good day for a baptism.  Don’t turn people down because it’s Advent or Lent; as it says on page 221, The minister shall encourage parents not to defer the Baptism of their children (emphasis added).  That being understood, when dealing with baptismal preparation for those of a riper age, there are four big days scattered fairly evenly throughout the year that have been identified as especially appropriate for Baptism and Confirmation: The Baptism of our Lord (the modern Epiphany 1), the Easter Vigil, the Day of Pentecost, and All Saints’ Day.  Of course, any day, a holy day or otherwise, is appropriate for such life-giving rites as baptism and confirmation, but insofar as a parish is able to plan and prepare for these milestones, those are the “best” four days in the year to aim for.

One of the interesting features of the 2019 Prayer Book, adapted from the 1979’s use, is the “Renewal of Baptismal Vows” – a rite appointed for use when there are no actual baptisms to be had.  Our prayer book, on page 194, notes that

If there are no baptisms or confirmations at the Easter Vigil, the Renewal of Baptismal Vows takes place after the Service of Lessons or the Sermon.  On other occasions, the Renewal of Vows follows the Sermon.  The Nicene Creed is not said.

This means that we are expected to use this rite at the Easter Vigil when no baptisms and confirmations are taking place, and we are permitted to use it at other times.  The four “big baptismal days” – Epiphany 1, Easter Vigil, Pentecost, All Saints’ – are arguably the “best” times to pull this rite out and observe it with your congregation.

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