Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Baptism re-enacted

I had the pleasure of attending a school assembly this morning at which prizes were distributed by the Deputy Lord Mayor, for a Rotary Club sponsored event. It's amazing how well Tredegarville children do, whether it's artistic, performance or sporting competitions. The school's physical environment leaves much to be desired, but this is more than compensated for by the commitment and enthusiasm of the staff.

After the noon Eucharist and lunch I made a return visit to school to baptize a doll in a re-enactment of the liturgy with commentary for a Year Three class. Now that we have the old St James' font in the lobby of the school, and our own paschal candle, it's possible to set things up and do the ceremony as one would if it were a real baby. Currently we have three babies attending God on Mondays with their parents. One was baptized in St John's on Easter Monday. I'm hoping and praying that before long one of the other two parents will ask if it's possible to christen their child in the school context. That would set the seal on our mission venture there in my eyes.

For the Christening role play, we chose godparents and parents. Two of them were Muslim. The whole class was of an age where reading together aloud easily and wasn't the most natural thing to do, but they made a good effort of it. The boy elected to be the baby's dad (unfortunately randomly chosen by me) turned out to be an English learner - I think one of our new Eastern European intake - he couldn't manage to read from the liturgy sheet, but I resisted replacing him with someone who could, because he had already taken charge of the dolly and was nursing the child as if it was second nature to him, with a big grin on his face. When I did a Czech baptism on Chrismas Day two years ago, I recall the father proudly bearing the baby, in a way that comes less easily to British working class fellers. Maybe it's culture, maybe it's something that runs in families, I don't know. Anyway, I asked the smiling lad what they were going to call the baby, and without hesitation he said "Mary", to the approval of the whole class. A moment to treasure.

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