Four Baptisms will be celebrated soon in our congregation. There are many ways to approach the sacrament of Baptism, but have we thought of it as a congregational covenant?
Many times I have planned baptism services with the family giving a large amount of input to the service. Part of me says "that great!" the other part of me gets a little squimish. Why? I find that some of those services become a "family service" where the participation comes from the family only and the congregation becomes spectators to an event. I have felt disconnected to the service at those points as well, and I'm an active leader in the service.
Do we as a congregation have any part of the service? Absolutely. We have promised to support the parents, and agree to help grow their children in the faith. So why does the congregation become the spectators and not the participants in what seems to be a very long-term commitment from the congregation. We should be an active participant in baptism even though we are not being baptized physically. But we should be reminded of our baptismal vows that were made by our parents and that we professed later in life.
I think the tide is turning in our congregation. Our congregation is recognizing that they are as much of the sacrament of baptism as the parent and the child. We as a congregation are excited about the baptisms that will be celebrated soon, but let us not look on as spectators, but let us be active participants in the celebration and in the vows that are promised to God, the parents, and to each other.
How do you celebrate baptisms in worship? Is there a baptismal font where the water is more visible? Are we celebrating with a word of special encouragement to the parents? Is it a covenantal promise with God or is it something else? What other significant symbols or elements in the service that make it meaningful for the entire congregation?