This font made c. 1500 is one of the treasures of St John the Baptist church, Snape, Norfolk, England. From the angle of my photograph it bars the way to the main body of the church. I was thinking that baptism is about welcoming people at the beginning of a journey with God, but the way the church presents baptism can be a barrier to starting that journey.
The Church of England Common Worship service of Holy Baptism is rich in biblical and theological images, possibly too rich. In my experience most parishes generally use the simplest forms allowable within this provision. I really enjoy baptising children and adults. But almost every time I long for a simple 'Prayer over the Water' the length of a short collect and not 25 lines long. But the only alternatives to the 'Prayer over the Water' are even longer and more complex.
There's now hope for revised material, thanks to yesterday's decision at General Synod. A few weeks ago the Daily Mail suggested the Church of England was looking to introduce 'Christenings without Christianity'. This is not the case.
What happened yesterday morning was this. General Synod approved a motion requesting the House of Bishops to ask the Liturgical Commission to prepare material to supplement the Common Worship Initiation provision, including additional forms of the Decision, the Prayer over the Water, and the Commission, expressed in 'accessible language'.
The summary and link to audio recording of the debate is here.
Reaction in the press is interesting.
The Daily Telegraph has the headline 'Church of England to rewrite baptism service words in Eastenders speak'. So that would be 'it's all about famileeee' would it?
The Guardian, under headline 'Breathing New Life into Baptism' reports that the C.of E. wants to "revitalise baptism services". Now I thought it was the Holy Spirit of God who give new life in baptism into Christ.
Reuters has 'Church of England to wash some Bible imagery from baptism rite'. I agree that reference to 'Jordan' or 'slavery in Egypt' can be very baffling and evoke different images from those intended.
BBC News has a headline which seems more accurate, 'Baptism language to be simplified.' Yes, that's what I would like to see.
What's your experence and thoughts?