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Sunday, 15 March 2009

This is the day that the Lord has made

Yes, every day is a day that the Lord has made, but I like to think of Sunday as specially his.

And for our family it's special.

Today at 10.30 in Street Parish Church Grace and Sophie are to be baptized and I am to have the joy of baptizing them.

Yesterday was, as I wrote, the gathering of the clans. The disappointment is that Cass, Giles' mother, won't be able to make it after all, but she will be rejoicing and praying back home and no doubt in her church this morning.

Yesterday also we made the Baptism Booklet that we shall use. If you would like to see it, I'll put it on line. There are eight short pages, each clearly labelled.

The first one is a general introduction, and then we have:

  • Welcome
  • Deciding to follow Jesus
  • The Cross
  • The Water
  • Our faith
  • The Baptism
  • The Candles and Dismissal
Welcome is from everyone present, representing both the human family and the family of Jesus. We are glad that some good friends are foregoing their normal Sunday morning worship to be with us. It would have been very good to have the Baptism in an ordinary service, but I didn't feel  quite up to it.

The section about deciding to follow Jesus reminds me of two occasions in my life. The first was in Ireland when I was on holiday in Delgany with my family, and went to a beach mission, CSSM in Greystones. One afternoon after games there, I was walking along a little-used railway line with a CSSM worker and another lad. The worker asked me "Have you ever given your heart to the Lord Jesus?" I thought about it and said no. He said "Will you go home and do it?" I said I'd try. He quoted a chorus, "It is not 'try' but 'trust'." I went back to Delgany and knelt by my bedside and gave my heart to Jesus.

The second occasion was in Cambridge. By that time I had had years of varied Christian experience, and when I went up to university I joined CICCU, the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union. At one of their prayer meetings on a Sunday morning  a man began to recite the words of a chorus that would normally be sung. When you sing, sometimes the words mean more. This time the words meant very much more, to me, spoken:
I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
No turning back
No turning back

The world behind me, the Cross before me
The world behind me, the Cross before me
The world behind me, the Cross before me
No turning back
No turning back
So stark.So clear. These words, spoken slowly and deliberately in a Cambridge college chapel, brought me back to the decision point and helped re-direct my life.

So this morning the signing with the Cross follows naturally on the decision to follow Jesus.

The Water is the essence of Baptism. It is the outward and visible sign of what God does by his Spirit inside everyone who comes to him. We are going to make the filling of the font as splashy and watery as we can, so that everyone, including Grace and Sophie, will be sure that water is what we are using. There are to be three big splashes, one for each of the little short prayers about water - water that brings life in the natural world, water that reminds us of drowning/dying with Jesus and coming out to a new life, and water that makes us think of God's loving Holy Spirit that makes lovely changes in people's hearts and lives.

What is left? Our chance to say we trust in the loving God, and then the Baptism when that love of God is made as personal as ever we can to Grace and Sophie.

And then candles. These could be just an add-on to the real business, but I think they are a very helpful add-on. Early in the proceedings we shall light a big candle and remind each other that Jesus said "I am the Light of the World."

Then at the end, when Grace and Sophie have been brought into the circle of his light, they will each have a light of her own, lit from the Jesus candle. The light is spreading. I pray that the light will glow brightly in these two little girls, and that it will spread from them to many others whose lives they touch.

Well, that is our plan for this morning. We shall sing as well.

If you would like to print out our booklet you are welcome to do it. I think I shall put it on line as a Google Document at least.

So it's here:

Beware. The pages have been numbered, and are re-arranged for printing out as a booklet. I shall have to leave you to read them in the right order.

Pray for us.

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