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I think Neil makes a very significant point when he suggests that a pastor's personal contact with siblings or other children is key to making a baptism memorable. Let me expand on it....

We had many baptism in our congregation on a regular basis (a lot of children!) and there were a number of non-negotiable considerations we always observed:

-siblings are always to be included in the baptism event (located in a position so they could see the actual baptism clearly) and they were  personally addressed by the pastor at the time of their siblings baptism.

-all the children of the congregation were welcomed to the front for the entire baptism. The pastor addressed them to help them understand what was happening here.

-When the baptized child was presented to the congregation so they could promise their "love, encouragement and prayers", the child was always introduced to the gathered children FIRST. The new child is their peer, and they were to give the first welcome.

-We resolved that we would not be annoyed by noise, rustling, cries, etc. After all, if children are valuable before the Lord, then we ought not to have the right to say "SHHHH".  If we have a problem with a little noise, the problem is ours not those who are doing what children normally do.

Any other ideas?

Thanks, David.  I like the "remembering that" terminology. And I'm also pretty comfortable with "Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows" from SNC 240, although that treats only the "vow" part of it as our action, and doesn't round it all out with a proper recollection of God's actions in baptism.

I like meeting a few parishioners on the anniversary of their baptism and going over the promises again.  Could be very rich!



A healthily challenging question, Nick! I'm glad to let it kick around in my brain for awhile and I hope that my other committee members will do the same.

Personally, I'm not sure that "forming" as "creating" is a very commonly understood way of referring to the work "forming". It usually means taking something that is already and giving it shape, health, and direction. The Spirit gives us "unformed" faith and the ministry of the word and sacraments, as well as the nurturing of parents, is to give this "unformed" substance some meaningful form that will direct a life into discipleship and cope with the tests of life.

When synod came up with this word, I think it intended to catch all the confessions were referring to by "shapes", "confirms", "sustains" and "nourishes".

But I'm glad to hear other perspectives on it. The last thing we want is some misunderstanding that begins a journey in the wrong direction.


Hi Al:  Thanks for this post and helping us to think about the order of worship. I demur a bit however at some of your thinking and I’m uncomfortable with your statement that “…what binds the Christian Reformed Church together as a denomination is not so much what we do as compared to what we believe.”  I suggest both of them are essential, as are both wings of an airplane.  But while you point to two entities – what we believe and how we worship (the one very important, the other apparently not,  in your thinking), I suggest there is a third and in-between entity in the process – the principles derived from our beliefs that must shape our worship.  It is possible to believe all the right things but still worship in an illegitimate and unbiblical manner. We ought not to buy into the “so long as we all believe the same thing it doesn’t matter  how we worship”. That can be as dangerous as “if we all believe the same thing we’ll all worship in exactly the same way.” Proper belief ought to lead to firm principles to be implemented in our worship life. In addition, let’s be aware of a culture around us that is pleased to teach us a kind of “worship” that follows some pretty unbiblical principles. So: shared beliefs, and basic principles, shaping a healthy and biblical diversity of worship.

Howard Vanderwell

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