One of the reasons we celebrate the Baptism liturgy during our main Sunday morning worship service is so we can welcome the entire baptismal family into the inclusive and ever-loving Church of Christ. Private baptisms (as I was baptized in Beverly Hills, CA) didn’t allow the parish to welcome me as the most important Christian in the room. It may seem that we are showing the family what a healthy church looks like, but it’s really the other way around.
We, as habitual Episcopalians, run the risk of forgetting who we really are, and what is vitally important to us as Christians. As we honor the child or adult being baptized we are required to say aloud the things we believe, and why we believe them. Will we do all in our power to support these persons in their life in Christ? We will, with God’s help.
Note what we don’t say: we don’t ask if they will go up to communion. We don’t make them promise to join our congregation. We don’t require that they stay in touch with us. We do, however, offer them cake and camaraderie after the service. We want to thank them for giving us the opportunity to renew our own baptismal vows. We pray that they will remain faithful Christians, in whatever community they choose. The ministry of baptism is the core of our faith. That is why we keep an open and water-filled font in the church as we worship. We must never forget our own baptism. We were washed clean of our sins, born again, and marked as Christ’s own forever. That is our deepest and most magnificent gift.