Over the last two weeks I have had the privilege opportunity to baptism 4 children, 2 in the cathedral and 2 in a parish church in Gillingham. This were both great events, special events and events where God is clearly at work.
I guess I am writing this here as upon reflection I have been surprised by how my view has changed … and I don’t think I really noticed the change.
A few years ago, and even longer, when I was youth worker at Holy Trinity Nailsea I remember being involved in changing the baptism policy of the church. They baptised everyone that asked for it which a number of us felt was wrong. We decided we should offer thanksgiving services, and then if people wanted to come back for baptism they could after a course of preparation. I think we were wrong to do that … and I also believe the church in Nailsea has put right our mistake.
I think our concerns were centred around people not understanding, parents not having faith, people not coming to church and so on and so on and so on. I think it came from a (wrong) understanding of having a faith that needed protecting, maybe even with a belief that only people who went to church regularly should have their children baptised… otherwise it would be a mockery.
As I read back through that I shiver! My excuse is that I was a young fiery evangelical man who was a little over exuberant on rules rather than compassion and grace. In my fieriness I had thought too much on what we do at baptism and not enough on what God does.
Baptism is, I believe, a free gift from God. God parents or the person being baptised make certain promises … but that is only a minor part of what is happening in baptism. Baptism is a sacrament, which may be described as an outward sign of something that God is doing invisibly and mysteriously. The more I reflect the more I am coming to believe that baptism is more about what God does rather than what we do. God plays the major role in some mysterious way that we do not fully understand …. and if that is so, then who are we to deprive anyone from that free gift of God?
So … I have changed my mind …. I wanted people to know … as some ‘out there’ think I would never admit to being wrong 😉