As we move through Lent, untold numbers of people are preparing for baptism at Easter. Many of us will renew our baptismal covenant at the Easter Vigil. That first process is often called the catechumenate (and for more on it and how to better support it, check out the North American Association for the Catechumenate), and both processes reflect the Marks of Mission: to teach, baptise, and nurture new believers (and I’ll admit here that I plan to continue to think of myself as new for the rest of my life). The Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission have put together a great program called Journey to Easter to help people move to a deeper understanding of our baptismal covenant in preparation, specifically for the renewal of the covenant at the Vigil service.
I think that we as Church invest much time, energy, and creativity in both the catechumenate in our ongoing renewal in our faith. At the same time, with the exception of the Vigil and renewing our promises when we celebrate the sacrament of baptism, we don’t do much liturgically to mark these processes. As Lent begins, it’s worth asking some questions about how we show in our liturgies the support of the community as people move toward baptism. The Reverend Canon John Hill’s work in this area is significant—it’s worth rereading all of Thinking about Baptism, Making Disciples, and Into the Household of God. Canon Hill is far from alone in suggesting that we carve out moments in our Sunday liturgies welcoming people as hearers of the word and as candidates for Holy Baptism and offering prayers for them as they journey toward the moment when they’re grafted into the body of Christ. Marking these stages also helps to draw the entire community into offering their support, helping to ensure that candidates aren’t strangers on the day of their baptisms.
Will your parish community be taking time in liturgy to mark stages in the journey toward baptism this Lent? If so, let’s share examples or stories of what that looks like in your community in the forum—the topic’s name is Journeying to the Font.