We have quite a few baptisms in our church, and families celebrate the occasion in different ways. I’ve been to a few of these gatherings, and I’ve been very impressed at the way some families make it a real occasion. Some extend an invitation to the church at large and ask everyone to bring something, potluck style, to a park or auditorium. Others send out invitations to a few friends and family and have it at (or in)Â their home.
Just a couple of weeks ago we were invited to a celebration held on a Sunday evening instead of right after the service. The parents have southern roots, so they fixed a low country boil for all the guests. This was arranged outside with a camp stove, and after the boil was ready, it was dumped into a big laundry basket and from there onto a big platter. If you’ve never had a low country boil, I should tell you what’s in it: corn on the cob, potatoes, shrimp, sausage, and bags of spices. It was fabulous. And topping the whole thing off, and in keeping with the southern theme,Â bread pudding with whiskey sauce was prepared by some devoted aunts.
Once it was time to gather around, the parents had arranged a lovely service preceding the meal. The young father introduced his newborn son and explained the baby’s name and why they chose it. Then he handed his son to his own father, who had prepared aÂ wonderful prayer and a blessingÂ for his grandson. Then they called on a friend to offer a toast to the baby, and we all lifted our glasses. After this short liturgy, we enjoyed sitting down together at tables arranged outside. It really was a delightful event.
Â But we have been to other joyful baptismal celebrations where folks crowded into homes, and we ate potluck style with no formal liturgy beyond a prayer of thanks. Certainly there are as many possibilities as families.
Three years ago (almost) we hosted a baptism party at our home when our three grandchildren were baptized on Reformation Sunday. Their grandparents from out of town were here to celebrate with us, but I hardly remember what we ate or what we did. I do know that we had tables set up in the family room, and we invited friends and family to join us for dinner. It was probably some kind of buffet, and my younger daughter remembers making croissant and craisin bread pudding for it.Â (My older daughter just remembers that her son was not yet a week old.) We gave the babiesÂ their silver cups with their names engraved on them. And I’m sure there must have been some blessings, singing, and prayers. (It’s always easier to remember parties I’ve been to than the parties I’ve given!)
This certainly ties in with Sabbath feasting, and as we grow used to these festivities, we will all get better and better at celebrating. And what better excuse can there be for a party than the baptism of our covenant children.