“…on a Saturday?”
Has been the first reaction of many when I have told them that this afternoon, I will make very serious promises on behalf of Isaac and Charlotte, and I will mean them.
This is not to say that when I conduct Baptisms, one of my favourite of the pastoral offices, most people don’t mean it, but it’s just that for many it is the first time they are called to respond directly to a question of faith, a matter that we tend to push under the carpet these days. For a number of practical reasons (Charlotte returning to Spain tomorrow, one of the Godparents (Oh, that would be me then) working on a Sunday) the baptism is today. I hold baptisms on any day of the week (often baptising adults on a Weds night), so no day is set aside for baptism.
One of our parishioners noted the other day that you can so easily tell the difference between the Churched and the Unchurched at a Baptism in the Mass: the regular Churchgoers usually just turn up in normal clothes whereas those unfamiliar with Church will always dress in what used to be called their ‘Sunday best’. It’s nice to make an effort, it gives respect to the occasion (and is why this morning I have my best suit and a clerical collar this morning). However, as most people don’t dress up for a Sunday anymore, and so what we are left with is the curious way of dressing up like a night out at a nightclub. In the middle of the day. In the cold. High heels and very very short dresses. In, as I have mentioned, the cold. Men in casual shirts and uncomfortable trousers. It’s a little odd. However, if the nightclub is the modern church…
…then we should not be surprised. The response is the most important thing. It says “this is important”, even if the medium and the idiom seem a little incongruous to those of us who have taken to heart the welcome of Christ to (in the words of Kurt Cobain) “come as you are”. Inner preparation is the most important thing, and is, I suspect what Matthew had more in mind when in Matthew 22:1-14 (and especially vs 12) when the man who wasn’t dressed appropriately was slung out: inner commitment, the garments a metaphor. I personally don’t think that he does look at your clothes, but rather what you wear on your heart. Do what you wish. If you want to put on your glad rags, then do so. It’s nice to see a bit of bling in Church.
The commitment to a child and their parents which a Godparent makes are essential: a building block of society and the core of the extended family that makes up the body of Christ. The promises I will make on their behalf are challenging and difficult to keep up, but ones which I will keep with joy. My prayers for the beginning of their Christian journey.