Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Baptism

The congregation mostly walks to church – and today is grey with rain. It began raining yesterday afternoon and has not stopped. And so the people dodge puddles as they arrive, wet and shaking umbrellas.

Today is a baptism service and the church soon fills up with family members, supporters and congregation. The band members trickle in and begin to tune their guitars - waiting for the keyboard player. I too am waiting for him, because I want this service to go well. Not only does he play the keyboard, but he owns the laptop which is connected to the projector for the words to the songs. But he does not appear so I allow the band to lead some community singing: which is really the old favourites that (hopefully) can be sung from memory.

I am in the vestry praying with the stewards when we get a message that one of the members of the congregation has had an epileptic fit. He is known to everyone – and so I lead the congregation in a prayer for him while various church members get him out of his seat and carry him to a side room where he recovers.
I read from John Chapter 4: the story of a Samaritan woman who engages a Jewish rabbi in conversation about religious division. (OK, OK, I know that there is much more in this passage – but I spoke about the way we use religion to perpetuate our religious divisions). I invited the people to discover God’s blessing that transcends the human barriers we erect. And I invited them to see the baptism of infants as a moment of God’s unconditional welcome.

Then I invited the parents to bring their children: there were four of them: dressed in their “Sunday best.” And amongst them was a little boy whose mother is lost in a haze of “tik” – but whose granny brought him so that we could pray for him and, in her words, “so that the church could know who he is.” And I baptised him, and prayed for him, and introduced him to the congregation.

As I watched the tears run down the cheeks of his granny, I knew we had done the right thing.


Cecilia said...

What a holy day for God's people, Pete. Thanks for your memories of it.

Scout with the Cross said...

Sometimes you do what you think is right and have to trust God that it is. And sometimes you see the fruit of that decision.

That helps us carry on taking those 'risks'.

Barbara said...

Thanks for taking us through this service with you. Beautifully written. I have no doubt you did the right thing.

digitaldion (Dion Forster) said...

Thanks Pete - this is a great encouragement. I do give thanks to God every time I think of you (I have been living with this text from Phil 1.3-6 for almost the whole year now).

At a recent conference I heard a Lutheran scholar (who swears a little MORE than Stanley Hauerwas) comment that we need to be converted FROM the extraordinary to the ordinary, and that when we allow this conversion to take place we will see much more of God!

You help me to do this so frequently.

You are a wonderful priest!

In Christ,