February see’s the the Church of Englands governing body the General Synod Meeting, and for once there is nothing too controversial on the agenda. That doesn’t seem to have stopped the Daily Mail from declaring the church is about to go to the dogs due to a proposed review of it’s baptism liturgies:
Christening without much Christianity declares the headline, and if you read the article (I did – I wouldn’t recommend it) then it would seem that in a desperate bid to sure up numbers the church is considering dumbing down it’s liturgy to encourage more folk to ‘take the plunge’, or more accurately ‘dip their kids’.
The truth is, there is a motion on the agenda for the synod to look again at our baptism liturgy, but the reason for this is pastoral rather than evangelsitic in terms of ‘getting them in’:
The motion from the Liverpool Diocesan Synod asks for additional texts to be prepared as alternatives for passages in the Common Worship Baptism Services, which would be expressed in more culturally appropriate and accessible language than is perceived to be the case with the present services.
The desire is for a liturgy which actually connects with people in an understandable way, whilst at the same time, preserves the truth of what baptism signifies. Good liturgy facilitiates worship by giving us words we can make our own to express that which we may otherwise find difficult. Bad liturgy does the opposite, it gets in the way. In my view the, the current liturgy for the baptismal service contains some which is very good – the declarations – a clear summation of what it means to commit oneself to Christ, and some which gets in the way – the notorious prayer over hte water. I’ll be interested to see what comes forth should the resoloution be adopted.
For those who decry any kind of change, we could go right back to the practice of the Early Church and hold our baptismal service in a nearby river – the Trent anyone?