Sunday, May 24, 2015
This isn't from today--it's four years old, which means I can be glimpsed dimly in the procession.
But today, when I arrived at St. Bartholomew's Church, reporting for duty on my second Sunday as a deacon, I was grabbed by one of our priests, an old friend, and asked if I was willing to do a baptism.
I said yes, of course; just as one never says "no" to AA, so too one never turns down an opportunity to do something new in ministry (well, that's my theory, and so far it's worked for me). But--a baptism? An infant baptism?
"What if I drop the poor little mite?" flashed through my head. Look at that video above, and all that marble. And I've been clergy for all of 8 days…
…But how could I say no, to serving in one of the two sacraments "ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel" as recognized in Article XXV of the 39 Articles? No disrespect to the other five, of course--hey, the blog is Anglocat on the Prowl, after all--but this is foundational stuff.
Baptism "is the sacrament by which God adopts us as his children and makes us members of Christ's Body, the Church, and inheritors of the kingdom of God." (Book of Common Prayer, Catechism, p. 858). How could I shy away from that?
So I didn't. A wise and experienced priest showed me the best way to hold the baby when she was given to me, and I rehearsed her names in my mind again and again. When I took her from her mother, though, I found myself holding her not in the (superior) way my friend had demonstrated, but the way I had gingerly held my young niece when she was a baby. This baby was a happy one, reclining in my arms, and smiling.
I stepped to the font. "----- ----," I pronounced, "I baptize you in the name of the Father," (a handful of water over the head, avoiding the perfect lace dress) "and of the Son," (more water, maybe a bit on the dress this time), "and of the Holy Spirit." A priest came over and anointed her, and I received the candle for her, passing it to her godfather. "Receive the Light of Christ."And I returned my charge to her mother, murmuring, "she was an angel," which was true.
At St Barts, when we invite the congregation to welcome the newly baptized, the clergy who baptize infants carry them from the Crossing Transept to the Narthex, and then back to the parents. I asked my young friend's mother if I might carry her, and she smiled, and handed her over. We journeyed through the Church together, and I could feel the grin split my face as I returned her to her mother.
I proclaimed the Gospel today. I set the table, and communicated a good many people. And I baptized a beautiful baby girl.
Her new life in the Church, and my own, were off to a good start.