I was at a baptism this week in the church where I play the organ, and it was a thought-provoking morning for a number of reasons. The church, like many, has an aging congregation, so we don’t see too many baptisms, and it was lovely to have children and babies there, as well as the child’s parents and their friends and other family members. There was a real sense of occasion and everyone was wonderfully well dressed. Most of the baptism party hadn’t been in the church before. In fact, it seems that most of them hadn’t been in any church for quite some time. But the baptism clearly was important, and even if it meant something different to each one of us there, it gathered us together. Talking with friends after, I wondered about the notion of having your baby baptised when you weren’t particularly religious or even necessarily a believer yourself. Someone suggested that, as a sacrament, baptism has a sort of life of its own in the way it works; in what it symbolises in terms of the church and represents in the life of a child. I’m reminded of a folk song called ‘Going Down to the Well with Maggie’ by a local singer-songwriter. It describes a child spending time with an aunt and learning abut the world through simple chores like fetching water, which is of course, a powerful symbol in the sacrament of baptism. The song talks about the profound impact those simple lessons can have, and says: “She knows what she is giving me, but not what I receive”. And I think baptism, or prayer or anything else that we might not fully understand or even believe in still has the power to reach us and give us what we need, whether we realise it at the time or not.
Dear Lord, thank you for the water of life and the many ways in which we receive it.. Amen.