Baptism

11 04 2010

Easter day at Christchurch Winchester this year saw 11 people committing their lives to God through baptism, a wonderful act that should be celebrated and a vital part of a persons Christian journey. The ceremony, led by the Bishop of Winchester, proceeded just like all the other baptisms that I’ve witnessed at Christchurch, the candidates declared their faith before being ‘dunked’, but as I witnessed this process of baptism, something struck me.

Each candidate had to pronounce vows just like a couple do at a marriage ceremony, reading from a sheet and declaring their faith after prompting from the Bishop. It all seemed very ritualistic, like a set process. How did we get from John the Baptist washing people of their sin in a river to this? It appeared regulated, and somewhat forced (although I am not doubting the conviction of the candidates to be baptised), it lacked spontaneity and passion, surely at this amazing point in our relationship with Christ we should want to embrace him and to declare it from the rooftops.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not disagreeing with the act involved here, this public declaration of faith should celebrated, but more the circumstance and environment in which it all took place. Maybe it’s purely the atmosphere of the church, maybe it’s the underlying ‘Britishness’ of everyone involved or maybe over the course of 2000 years, we’ve managed to suck the life out of this glorious act and fill it with set narratives and regulation.

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One response

23 04 2010
Tim Maundrell

surely, what you have just described is not baptism but the established church in general

– ‘It all seemed very ritualistic, like a set process….regulated, and somewhat forced…we’ve managed to suck the life out of this glorious act and fill it with set narratives and regulation’

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