On Sunday, April 10, I had the great joy of baptizing our granddaughter, Leah Madeline, at Grace Church on-the-Hill in Toronto. I, of course, was very excited and a little nervous, too. It helped that two other babies, Lily Jane and Harvey Chandler, were also being baptized, and in the way in which all the parents and godparents lined up in front of the font, our darling Leah and her parents, Nathan and Melissa, were in the middle.
As I took her in my arms, I poured three generous handfuls of water over her dear little head. Using the oil of chrism, I traced the sign of the cross on her forehead and marked her as “Christ’s own forever.” Then, with great delight, I walked her down the aisle and up into the chancel so that everyone could see and welcome her. She seemed to enjoy the stroll as much as they did.
Since that happy day I have thought much about the nature of our baptism. Inasmuch as it is a spiritual birth and incorporation into the Body of Christ, it is for us a way of life, reflective of the vows we make. We believe in God and we worship God. We endeavour to walk humbly with God, and when we stray, as we all do, we make our way back to God. We must show compassion toward those in need and work hard for what is good and right and just for all people. We are called to tend God’s creation with regard for our children.
This way of living asks much of us and we can only respond trusting in the grace of God to keep us centred and strong. It is good that from time to time we have opportunities to renew our vows and feel afresh the water of baptism through a joyful and extravagant asperging of the entire congregation.
As I cherish the delight of Leah’s baptism, and the blessing bestowed in that sacred moment, I am reminded of how I must pray for her and set the best example of a life lived according to the church’s prayer.
“…Sustain her, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit.
Give her an inquiring and discerning heart,
the courage to will and to persevere,
a spirit to know and to love you,
and the gift of joy and wonder
in all your works. Amen.”
(Book of Alternative Services, Holy Baptism, p. 160)