18 June 2012

Baptismal Liturgies

Recently I have read someone opine that there are no well-loved Anglican baptismal liturgies.  This may be true for some, but it is not universally true.  There are elements and particular prayers that are dearly loved.

How shall we communicate to those with the power to decide such things that their presumptions are in error.  How shall we raise up the cause of a particular prayer, liturgical outline, or other element?  As John Adams sings in the musical 1776: Is anybody there? Does anybody care?  Does anybody see what I see?   Perhaps it is only after long years in the American context that I am loathe to see the faithful not consulted.

The truth is that it disturbs me to lose or not make use of prayers and language of particular grace and power that ought to have a place in the Catholic Church among the new rites and formularies to be developed for the Ordinariates and the Anglican Use parishes in the USA.

By way of example, I suggest looking at the well-beloved Minister's Declaration at the beginning of the Baptismal Liturgy in The Book of Common Prayer in the Anglican Church of the Province of the West Indies.  Some will recognise elements of it from other sources, but it serves as a case in point of something worthy of consideration... if not in its precise words then in the idea of having such a declaration.

MINISTER:  In Holy Baptism, the Church proclaims the Good News of our incorporation into the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom which Jesus Christ, our Incarnate Lord, inaugurated by His life of perfect trust and obedience to the Father.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, he brought into being a people for His own possession, which people we are.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are united with Christ in Holy Baptism, sharing not only in His death but also in his resurrection, becoming God's children by adpotion and grace, thus changing our created nature so deeply that the Holy Scripture says that in Baptism we are born again.

Let us therefore pray that those who have come for Baptism may receive, in this Holy Sacrament, that blessing which by nature they cannot have, that they may be made living members of the Church, which is the Body of Christ, and so be set free from the bondage of sin.

From time to time in the future I shall offer other posts of such valuable material from the various Books of Common Prayer as well as those rites authored under difficult circumstances by Jeremy Taylor and later Non-jurors whose rites and prayers are not well known but nonetheless part of the Anglican experience and its patrimony.

+There is One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism