Edie’s Christening

February 19, 2014 at 10:33 pm (Genealogy/Family)

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Barbara, Edie, & Wifey

As I play catch-up with some of the bigger events in our family, I wanted to share my youngest daughter’s baptism as it happened last year on the Sunday before Advent (Nov. 24rth). Of course, the baptism followed the churching of my wife (in decent prayer book fashion) by about three weeks from Edie’s birth. In the course of that time, I discussed some aspects of the baptismal order with our reverend father-in-God, Bp. Ronald Johnson, requesting that Edie’s sponsors be her own parents (i.e., Amanda and myself). The setting aside of Godparents is an option given by the 1928 prayer book, and it seemed justifiable given our plans to move out-of-state, so we’d probably loose touch with any Godparents back in CA. There’s also a further concern about  the direction of the wider Anglican church, and much longer my family and I can seriously identify with an institutional church.

Nevertheless, despite my desire for “re”-enriching the American BCP, Bp. Johnson asked, for the sake of good order, we seek a single Godmother. So, Amanda and I asked his wife, Barbara. My wife has gotten to know Barbara by helping her with altar guild duties, and, like most regular parishioners, we help with Sunday lunch. Yet, we couldn’t imagine a better Godparent, and many times the Johnsons have warmly welcomed us into their home for long hours of conversation. Mrs. Johnson is perhaps the most biblical literate and socially conservative woman we know. Furthermore, she was delighted with the request, and we proceeded to hatch out the details of Edie’s christening.

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The Jenkins and Bartlett families

As the guest list was organized, we realized just how small our circle of friends and family has become since moving from the South Bay. Of course, our parents were on the top of the list, as well as my brother’s wife and their daughter (our niece), little Mary. Incidentally, our family is friends with a large number of Mormons (in addition to half our family being Mormon), so my wife solicited her good acquaintance,  Mrs. Jenkins who brought her kids, parents, and husband. In the end, the Mormon contingent (the Jenkins plus my brother’s family) was actually larger than the Anglican congregants able to make the service.

Since we stick to the older prayer book, our church would be considered liturgically traditional, and, not surprisingly, the parish is shrinking. We have about 20-30 communicants. While the Johnson’s believe in headship and generational vision, in many other Anglican churches we’ve attended, the pastors care little about ‘family values’ and are usually more encouraging of “monasticism”, usually the Roman or Eastern kind.

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Amanda’s churching

Compare this to Mormonism where children are intensely encouraged; and the retention of families by regular instruction, material support, and oversight is given top priority within the Ward. Many times we’ve considered Mormonism as having a first-class system for family life, and this has been one of several observations my wife and I have made with Latter Day Saints. Anglicans once-upon-a-time nearly possessed the whole of (Protestant) Christendom. They had Mothers’ Unions. They opposed divorce, birth control, and promiscuity. But, by the second world war, Anglo-Saxon civilization traded their confessional church for an interfaith one, and the morality as well as creeds went out the door. I cannot say with confidence that Anglicans are “salt”.

Moreover, Anglicans suffer an terrible identity crisis, so conservative families are basically left to fend for themselves if not used as pawns in the private agendas of some clergy. So, over time I’ve become fairly indifferent or callous toward the institutional Anglican church. Not surprisingly, I have little qualm whether baptism is administered at the home or in the church, and generally speaking I’d prefer the the privacy of the home. Nonetheless, I still love Anglicanism, and consider Amanda and I a staunch “prayer book family”. It’s the prayer book, with it’s strata of history dating from the primitive era, through the medieval, to the Great Awakening, that inspires me to remain Anglican.

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St. Paul’s Interior

Nonetheless, given the large number of Mormons, I wanted to use the more “apologetic” 1662 liturgy that is more explicit about the rationale behind infant baptism. On the whole, the 1662 book tends to provide a greater ‘teaching emphasis’ in its occasional offices. Bishop Johnson was very patient with my requests to embellish the 1928 liturgy, and what began as an extensive borrowing ending up a simple transfer of a short exhortation from the 1662 into the 1928 service. The exhortation was selected because it aptly gives the ‘why’ of infant immersion, saying,

“BELOVED, ye hear in this Gospel the words of our Saviour Christ, that he commanded the children to be brought unto him; how he blamed those that would have kept them from him; how he exhorteth all men to follow their innocency. Ye perceive how by his outward gesture and deed he declared his good will toward them; for he embraced them in his arms, he laid his hands upon them, and blessed them. Doubt ye not therefore, but earnestly believe, that he will likewise favourably receive this present Infant; that he will embrace her with the arms of his mercy; that he will give unto her the blessing of eternal life, and make her partaker of his everlasting kingdom. Wherefore we being thus persuaded of the good will of our heavenly Father towards this Infant, declared by his Son Jesus Christ; and nothing doubting but that he favourably alloweth this charitable work of ours in bringing this Infant to his holy Baptism…”

also ending with this prayer,

 “…let us faithfully and devoutly give thanks unto him, and say,

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, heavenly Father, we give thee humble thanks, for that thou hast vouchsafed to call us to the knowledge of thy grace, and faith in thee: Increase this knowledge, and confirm this faith in us evermore. Give thy Holy Spirit to this Infant, that she may be born again, and be made an heir of everlasting salvation; through our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.”

We are blessed to have Edie sealed into Christ’s church by her baptism whereupon she may begin to enjoy the benefits of future christian knowledge and grace. While there are a number of Protestant sects (not only Mormon but Baptist, et. al.) which dislike the baptizing of small children, I will say children begin to learn and develop Godly manners and habits much sooner than the age of discretion admits. However, if the postponement of baptism is reasoned by charity rather than doctrine, then I am supportive.

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Christian Birthday!

Nonetheless, our daughter Abby (who was baptized as a newborn) already knows several things about public worship; namely, that public worship has leadership & good order, and that our family regularly gives “treasure” to the church (she familiar with the presidency and the oblation). Furthermore, she knows that we worship by standing and singing as well as sitting. Likewise, we give responses before and after our readings. Abby joins us in approaching and kneeling at the rail during the distribution of the sacrament (though she does not receive yet). While Abby is only ‘two’, these are acts and rituals she will know and deepen her entire life. We expect the same for Edie.

So, we might say Edie is at the beginning of a life-long journey, marked by her baptism and aided by a new grace according to the faith of her parents and Godmother. We hope to well-equip her for that sojourn which is sometimes uphill and dark. We want her have the best instruction and examples. Certainly, Mrs. Johnson is that (a living sacrament?… “be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with him, that he may dwell in us, and we in him”– HC office p. 81), and we’ll probably send Edie off to stay with the Johnson family someday, so she can know her Godfamily. We love you Edie!

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