In all my years as a parish priest, I advocated ”” indeed, insisted ”” that “it is desirable that every minister having the cure of souls shall normally administer the sacrament of Holy Baptism on Sundays at public worship when the most number of people come together” (Canon B21: Of Holy Baptism).
Yet now, in retirement, as I approach our parish church, and see the festive gathering ”” I wonder….
Sunday by Sunday, the faith is being sold cheap, and the opportunity for patient and welcoming pastoral teaching before Baptism (as allowed by Canon B22 (4)) is being lost. Elsewhere, evangelists may be dancing to the tune of Fresh Expressions of Church in all sorts of courageous innovations, but these popular Sunday jamborees are invitations to fresh perjury.
Perjury is a punishable offence, and yet we clergy who put the question “Do you turn to Christ?” could be accused of inciting it. It is no wonder that thoughtful members of our congregations become distressed at what they see; for solemn vows are being made, when it is often quite clear from the body language and the tone of the responses that the parents and godparents are doing no more than follow the script that has been put into their hands.