Easter being so late this year we are treated with daffodils and lambs in the field right from the start of lent. Signs of new life, irrepressible, even as we are making our way through the Lenten desert.
We are also blessed with baptisms this Lent/Eastertide – Frankie Stride was baptised on the first sunday in Lent, at the start of our Lenten journey, and on Easter day we will baptise Lily-Mae. Baptisms are always a great pleasure, and these two this year are a particular joy because Frankie is an adult who asked for baptism, whereas Lily, at 5 months old, is being bought by her family for baptism. Between them they span the breadth of circumstance for baptism.
For older candidates, baptism comes from their own reflection and request. I remember asking to be baptised at age 7, my parents having wished that this be my own decision, if ever, in my own good time. I longed to fully belong to the church, and I remember the flowering of my spirit, as well as my nerves about coming before the whole community, with my relatively mature decision at such a tender age.
Most of the candidates I baptise are too young to realise the significance of their big day, but their parents and Godparents certainly do, being asked to consider what the outworking of their promises would ask of them, in their own particular path. It is a privilege to stand alongside and enable families at these moments of great thanksgiving and solemn intent.
In Teme Valley North we welcome any who may be wondering about baptism, either for themselves or on behalf of those for whom they care. We encourage people to come to worship prior to the baptism itself, to explore what a commitment to God and belonging to the church family might be like. Many choose, though, to live out that commitment outside of the church; in which case we keep in touch and keep all in our prayers.
Some older children and adults may feel the need to express a move in their faith life, a deepening of engagement with the holy, and reach towards baptism, but find that they are already baptised. For these, confirmation would be appropriate. Confirmation is simply a publically restating of one’s baptism promises as a mature person.
We also as a church community celebrate our baptism promises on Trinity sunday on June 15th.
At the point of his baptism, the heavens opened above Jesus and a voice was heard saying This is my beloved son, with whom I am delighted. May the Easter gift of new life to us all spring from the knowledge that we are all deeply beloved of God, and no less than a sheer delight to Him.
Rev’d Louise Grace