As I write, I have just spent a lovely family weekend that, not only included me conducting the christening of my grandson Aled at Batley Central but, because of it, also meant I was able to spend time with the different parts of my family, all at the same time! It does not happen that often and therefore seemed extra special. I would like to say a great big thank you to those of you who were also able to spend the day with us and to those who helped with all the practical arrangements that enabled the day to go so smoothly. The smell of the hog roast as I entered the Brimer Hall after the service is one I will long remember!
In his christening, we welcomed Aled into the "family of the church" and gave him the invisible sign of the cross of Jesus on his forehead. Amongst other things, all
of this signifies that as Aled walks his journey through life, Jesus Christ walks with him. As I said yesterday, it could be years before Aled even knows that for himself and,
for now, those of us who made promises on his behalf, are those who are to help him on that journey. Of course, the promises we made were not just for Aled but for "all the
children among us".
Our actual promise was:
Will you maintain a life of worship and service together so that he and all the children among us may grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord?
Our response: With God's help, we will.
At its best, a service of baptism (or christening) is one way of celebrating that we are ALL part of God's family on earth; or, to use the analogy used by St Paul in Romans chapter 12, we are all part of the "one body". Paul goes on to explain that just as there are many members within that body, there are also many gifts given by God to fulfil all the functions of God's body, the Church. WE are the Body of Christ here in Batley and within that Body there are many people with many varied gifts who work diligently (many behind the scenes) so that the church continues. At a recent Church Council meeting, however, we received notification that some people who have served faithfully in different ways for many years would like to be relinquished of those responsibilities. If we take seriously the promise we made yesterday to "maintain a life of worship and service that he and all the children among us may grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord" then we must take it seriously when some of the functions of "our body" need replenishing! So, I ask you to pray that these roles might be filled and invite you to prayerfully consider what part YOU might play within the church. Remember the words of the following hymn (STF 409):
Let us build a house where love can dwell
and all can safely live,
a place where saints and children tell
how hearts learn to forgive.
Built of hopes and dreams and visions,
rock of faith and vault of grace;
here the love of Christ shall end divisions:
All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.