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The following article was published in "Supporting Clergy, Readers and Lay Leaders in Bath and Wells Diocese".   Whilst names and circumstances have been changed, the author says it is "typical" of her experience.

There were about seventy of us. Sunday lunchtime about 1230. Family baptism for little Toby. I was about to become a godparent for the first time. We trooped into the church, the nicotine-addicted using gravestones to extinguish their last cigarette for, ooh, thirty minutes.  

A young woman welcomed us. She described herself as the curate, gave us all small booklets and explained what was going to happen.  

So we sat around a low table looking at a large glass bowl full of water. There was a lovely old stone font by the door but, apparently, it leaks.  

We went through a form of service, answering questions about turning to Christ, renouncing this, repenting of that and rejecting something else. Not words I often use I have to say, repent and renounce.  

I felt a bit distant really to tell the truth, even when I said the responses properly. Toby got done. Then something happened.  

The curate woman lit a candle and said it signified that Toby had passed from darkness into light. She gave it to me. Suddenly I realised that Toby was so small and couldn't possibly repent or renounce and he was only going to pass from one state to another if someone went with him. Yet he had passed into the light. So that was a symbol. And it is now my job, along with the other godparents and Toby's Mum and Dad to make it true.  

So I had to address the question, did I believe what I had just said? Had I turned to Christ? Was I in the light?  

It took me by surprise. Old church. This building will have seen hundreds of christenings. Old routine. Babies have been being splashed for years; an excuse for a family party and little more. I felt compelled to ask afterwards how the curate woman felt about me having just said things I wasn't really sure about.  

She said nothing. Simply handed me a postcard telling me about an Alpha Course.  

I wonder.  

Kirsty - Somerset


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