Indeed Sunday 24 February was a day to remember at Russell School as the Anglican Congregation there hosted a Christian baptism and renewal service. Over 60 people attended from the local churches and communities to support Paula MacEwan and Amber Barclay-Williams who made baptismal commitments and Mai Sa who renewed her baptismal vows.
Local Priest Terry Alve began his message to those gathered by reflecting on the baptism service venue journey from Titahi Bay to Plimmerton Beach to Russell School. On Friday the weather forecast suggested a beach baptism would not be wise. While we had been praying for fine, beach weather until Friday; we changed our prayer (as sometimes we need to do) to ask for a storm so that the move to Russell School was justified. A hastily found inflatable birthing bath became a baptismal pool and the three ladies at the centre of proceedings didn't have to freeze as they were immersed in the pool - Matt had immersed his heating irons in the water for a few hours before the event. It was noted during the service that being baptised in a birthing bath captures well some of the meaning of the spiritual rebirth that baptism symbolises. Each candidate was sung a waiata after being immersed in the water and words of encouragement, scripture and prophecy were prayerfully offered.
Rev Cath Growcott - former Porirua Anglican Priest - conducted the baptisms, having been involved while in the Parish with the candidates. Rev Rochelle Grace who ministers in the local Maori Pastorate and Rota Waitoa Church led liturgy and included Te Reo Maori in the service and Interim priest in Charge Terry Alve shared the message and led the communion prayers. The Russell School congregation were gracious and generous hosts as they shared in setting up the venue and oversaw the catering which was sumptuous and plentiful.
Yesterday the liturgical theme at St Anne's was "The Baptism of the Lord." We thought about what Jesus' baptism in the River Jordan by John the Baptist means. While Jesus' baptism was not a baptism of repentance as ours is - we believe that Jesus had nothing to repent of - it was an action identifying with his and our humanity and it was a public declaration by God that He was the Messianic Son of God who is to be heeded. Jesus' baptism is similar to ours in that the Holy Spirit came upon Him; something we expect to happen when we are baptised and/or confirmed. We won't go into the connection here between baptism and confirmation as understood by Anglicans, other than to say that the Spirit is at work in both rites.
The important question I would like to pose today is, "Are you baptised and if not might it be the right time to consider being baptised?" We are preparing for a baptism service, possibly at the end of February. If you would like to join a group who are preparing for baptism please make contact. This group will meet over four weekly sessions during January and February beginning the week of 21 January. Participation in the group will invite you to explore the meaning of baptism. You may decide to proceed to baptism (possibly on 24th February), you may choose to wait longer or, you may decide baptism is not for you. Whatever your decision it will be respected.
So, if you are an adult or a teenager who would like to explore baptism for yourself; or if you are the parent or guardian of a child for whom you would like to consider baptism, this group is for you. I'd love to chat with you about joining with us.
Members of the Porirua Anglican Communities