It was a good day yesterday – I was in St Margaret’s, Leven, for the baptism of Elsa. Elsa is the child of Thomas Brauer, our Diocesan Missioner and his wife Cheryl.
Else’s baptism became a day of celebration for our congregations in Lochgelly, Glenrothes and Leven. It took me back to ideas and themes which I used to think about constantly. I remember bending the parish computer to make it do the calculation – the outcome was the information that our parish list recorded the names of about 300 children under the age of seven. And we did four or five baptisms every month.
What made that interesting was the context – we were in the heart of the Bible Belt of Northern Ireland. The challenges to the practice of infant baptism were constant – most commonly that we were attempting to shape salvation through a ritual which was automatic.
The reality was … that we were attempting to shape parish life of a quality which would nurture children in faith – and nurture them for faith decision. We tried hard to create worship which caught the imagination of children – children who are both the present and the future church. I can’t claim that we were startlingly successful. But we tried hard to support parents and to to make children feel both welcome and valued.