So there you are, two services done and sitting down for lunch with the family you look up and realise that there's an afternoon baptism approaching. To be really honest I'm not a fan of the afternoon baptism service for a number of reasons, namely:
i. I think that baptism needs to be done in the main service of the day and so I tend to to include them in our usual 10.00 service, keeping the Communion and making it light as an opportunity for teaching rather than including it into the all-age service. There are times when we do it on the first Sunday (our all-age) but that's about calendar rather than intent or design.
ii. I struggle with a service which creeps in to church, sees people mumble their way through the service and then sees them leg it off to the party leaving me with the feeling that what has just happened was perhaps a little facile and perhaps disrespectful to the bloke I serve. I do point out to people that they are making promises to God but am often left with the feeling that the fear of someone you don't think exists holds no fear at all! Makes believer's baptism a really attractive proposition - pity it's not the only way in the Bible, I'd be at home snoozing!!!
iii. I struggle further when the two ladies who set up and hand out the service sheets welcome the newly baptised in the name of the Church - Church should consist of numbers and baptism, adding to that number, needs to be celebrated by the whole congregation (or at least more than two of them).
iv. The real issue I have with the afternoon service most of all because the cherry which we add to this cake consists of the fact that often I find myself in a cattle market where the people drift off into telephone conversations (always funny when the person back at the party rings to see whether the sausage rolls should go in yet!) and mumble their way through the whole thing - and this speaks of preparation and engagement and basic belief (no, I don't do the preparation).
But all that aside, you turn up and sign the certificates and go through the service and before you know it that's another hour and a half of your life you aren;t going to get back ...Gone!
But I've added this because for many of us this is a once or twice a month affair and it's another brick in (should that be 'out of' I wonder?) the wall.
Last month I got to do two such services. the first at 2pm and the second at 3.30pm. The first I prepared and was blessed as all said their bit and the godparents stood before the congregation with the parents and the baby. The second saw me baptism a myriad number of children and the engagement was generally lacking and I went home after almost three hours in the place looking for a cat to kick.
So workload aside there's also the engagement and the latter is where the spring in the step is always to be found.
Getting the picture though? Iy's now gone four and those who came to church thus far have ticked their boxes and are done for the day - but church continues for more than the box ticking session - hmmmm.