Magazine article The Christian Century

All in the Family

Magazine article The Christian Century

All in the Family

Article excerpt

ON THE THIRD Sunday of Easter I was in La Jolla, California, for the baptism of a granddaughter. If there is anything better than witnessing and participating in the baptism of a grandchild, I don't know what it is.

I'm told there are never unpleasant days in this part of the world. April in Chicago testifies that T. S. Eliot was right when he called April "the cruelest month." Perhaps Eliot had watched a baseball game at Wrigley Field with the temperature at 37 degrees and a 30-knot wind blowing off the lake. There are no days like that in La Jolla.

Baptism Sunday arrived sunny, warm and clear as a bell. The sanctuary buzzed with greetings, conversations, laughter. The church followed a traditional liturgy--somewhat unusual these days in Southern California. The organist chose Sowerby for a prelude, J. S. Bach for the postlude, and Sowerby's "Behold, God Is My Salvation" as the anthem by the choir. During the prelude, the three-year-old big sister of the one to be baptized walked down the aisle to light the candles. It was a bit of a stretch, even with the long candlelighter. The young woman accompanying her resolved the matter by lifting each brass candle holder from the altar and holding it down for Fiona, who took her responsibility utterly seriously. As she accomplished her mission a broad smile appeared on her face.

This baptism was logistically complex, since both grandfathers are clergypersons. (Both grandmothers are named Sue, which made the choice of a middle name quite clear. …

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