Saturday, April 13, 2019

Opening Ceremonies - Article 27/39

BAPTISM is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or new Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed; Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God. The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.

We note that the words baptism and christening were interchangeable for the Reformers. Initiation rites are important but, as discussed previously, controversial. Our local Baptist Church used to borrow one of our Parish Churches with a baptistery for their baptisms. We used to ask, as a courtesy, that they did not baptise people there who had previously been baptised as infants in the Church of England.

A member of my church, previously baptised as an infant, came to a living faith of his own. Wanting to make a public profession for himself we prepared him for confirmation and he was duly confirmed. Some years later he and his whole family left for a free evangelical church in order to allow his teenage children to experience a larger youth group (how hard it is for small churches to keep their teenagers) and they persuaded him to be baptised.

Now that's odd but it does show that many people desire the experience of baptism over and above the willingness to come to terms with the responsibilities of being a baptised person. I was baptised at four months and came to faith at about 19. Having been an ordained minister for 34 years now it is strange that many Christian churches will not consider I have been properly initiated.

Here's a tale. The Queen is booked to open a shopping centre. It is one of those rare occasions where the building project finished early and so shops are merrily trading for three weeks before the grand opening ceremony. On the day of the ceremony the Centre remains closed until 10.00 a.m. until the ribbon is cut and the plaque unveiled. Then trading continues.

Alternatively it is one of those less-than-rare occasions where the building work over-runs. On the day Her Maj is due all work stops and red carpet is placed over concrete. Barriers are erected in front of incomplete structures. The ribbon is cut, the plaque unveiled and then the builders hasten to finish the job.

Opening ceremonies do not have to precisely match the beginning of functionality.

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