RIPON CATHEDRAL successfully held its first service on the theme of godparents and godchildren last weekend. The usual Sunday-morning congregation was boosted by about 50 extra people, many of them children who came to celebrate their relationships.
“It tends to be rarely talked about, but the relationship between godparents and godchildren can be one of the most important in a child’s life,” the Dean of Ripon, the Very Revd John Dobson, said. “We want to recognise that a godparent’s care can reflect God’s love for us. The service provides an opportunity to both godparents and godchildren to either renew or deepen that relationship.”
He said that he was “delighted” with the service, which had been launched in a modest way but had stimulated great interest. “This event extended to the region, thanks to several radio stations’ taking it up as a feature. This in turn gave us a further opportunity to talk about how our lives can be enriched by others encouraging us to grow in Christian faith.
“Members of the cathedral congregations and people within the wider community found themselves recounting how they have benefited from the godparent-godchild relationship. I have no doubt that this is something we will repeat.”
As the godparents and their charges arrived, they were given badges saying either “Praying Godparent” or “Blessed Godchild”. During the service, they were invited by the preacher, the Ven. Clive Mansell, a Canon of Ripon Cathedral, to come to the front, where they recited a prayer for each other. The children were then given star stickers for their godparents to show that they appreciated them, and the godparents were given heart-shaped stickers for their godchildren to show that they are loved. After the service, a christening-type cake was enjoyed.
In his sermon, Canon Mansell spoke of the godparents’ responsibility to “be there” for his or her godchild, describing it as “a great privilege and sometimes a very practical challenge”. He continued: “In a current C of E leaflet, christening/baptism is described as a first step on an amazing journey. Godparents are invited to walk with their godchild on that journey.
“Just being there for them can mean a great deal, whether their journey is easy or difficult. We can weep when they weep; we can rejoice when they rejoice. Sometimes, we wait patiently for them on the journey. Sometimes, under God, they surprise us.
“To be a godparent is a calling from God for you. If you are a godchild, have you ever thought of your godparent as a gift from God to you? They can bring you something of his love and care. They can in some way represent something of his being there for you.”