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Baptismal grace extends beyond the candidate

by
07 August 2015

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From the Revd Philip Martin

Sir, — London, where the Revd Gillean Craig ministers, may be another country, but, even so, I question the generalisation, in his television review (24 July), that “Most clergy have experienced a baptism from hell” of the kind he describes.

After 31 years of welcoming all baptism requests, I can testify to the power of the sacrament of baptism. Even when some attending services exhibit awkwardness or reluctance on entering, invariably after even the simplest of services, there is a changed and deepened awareness of God’s presence. Such an effect is certainly not of my doing. Indeed, apathetic or tired, I am often the most undeserving and surprised beneficiary of the simple grace and mystery that are evident at an apparently “routine christening”.

It is true that baptism, as any sacrament, is hampered if conducted by a priest who demands to minister on his or her own terms instead of seeking to discover Christ in the family and persons who are present, but that is another matter entirely.

Let all of us older and more experienced clergy encourage our younger and enthusiastic colleagues to see the ministry of baptism as a gift, not just to those who request it, but also to our churches, and to us who are its unworthy agents.

PIP MARTIN
The Vicarage, Alderholt
Fordingbridge SP6 3DN

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