Yesterday, Plum was baptised. It was a bright day with a clear blue sky overhead. I thought that it felt a bit like Thanksgiving. Maybe because Beangirl was baptised at Thanksgiving, so the echoes were there already. Maybe just because of the almost-autumnal weather around here and the gathering of so many friends and family – and of course, all the food.
My kitchen inevitably turned into a bakery for a few days before the baptism. I made dozens of cupcakes: vanilla for those who like things straight forwards, then chocolate with flaked almonds, lemon with raspberry and chocolate with raspberry. I’d planned to decorate them, but was overruled by my kids who wanted to do that themselves at the party itself, which turned out to be a brilliant idea.
They also had a DIY feast of peanut butter and jam sandwiches alongside mountains of sausage rolls (I’m not sure any of the adults got to taste those), and green and red grapes by the fistful. An aunt of mine brought tiny tomato tarts and a friend brought a chocolate zucchini cake. At the centre of the table was an almond apricot baptism cake. I wondered if I should make a plum cake, but decided on this light fruit cake. It was gorgeous and now it’s gone. Fruitcake and fleeting aren’t usually associate words, but baptisms are wonderous times.
Yesterday, I felt so blessed. My parents are visiting with us right now so they could be with us for Plum’s baptism. We also had a collection of their local friends and family representing the older generation, and friends of our own crowded in with their families, too. After the ceremony, we all occupied the church hall for a music party with assorted guitars, ukuleles, a banjo, and kids with shakers. Happy noise and beautiful people.
I wondered ahead of time what the baptism itself would feel like. It’s third-time-round for the Spouse and me. Three kids, three churches, three different baptisms. This is the first baptism in a church where I work, and baptisms are fairly frequent with our congregation, so I wondered if it would feel a little old hat. But it was wonderful, quite literally. Hearing our friends’ voices singing among the congregation, having my parents there with us, and standing beside our two older children with our new little one in our arms. So wonderful. I’m glad that baptisms are celebrated during regular Sunday worship – it feels right that the welcoming and blessing of a baby takes place in and around the regular work of worship.
The moment I love best in any baptism service is when the minister reminds the congregation of their role. They are to represent the wider church and promise to support and nurture the child – and every child in their midst. To me, that always feels like an affirmation for the congregation as well as a calling. We are to be the body of Christ. We are to remember that we’re trusted and entrusted with the gift of children by God. There’s something to chew on. Any of us could move away next week and have to change congregations, but this baptismal moment reminds us that wherever we are, we are already members of a wider supporting family in Christ with all the blessing, belonging and responsibility that brings.
With my peripatetic nature, I find great comfort in that kind of promise.