The Rector Writes - July 2018

You must have seen the Patek Philippe watch adverts. The ones that say, "You never really own a Patek Philippe - you just look after it for the next generation."

Now, I have never had a Swiss watch (although I do have a rather nice pocket watch that my parents gave me when I was 18). But it does get at something rather important: when we have something that we really value, we want to pass it on. That may be true for a watch; it is certainly true for things more valuable. (Yes, there really are things more precious than a Swiss watch!)

That is why, for example, parents can invest so much time and emotional energy in their children's schooling - having had the opportunities and blessings that education provides they quite naturally want to pass it on (and perhaps even more so, if one hasn't had those opportunities).

That is also why Christians have always been concerned to pass on our faith. Education (like a good watch) is a great thing that creates all sorts of possibilities, but it cannot begin to compete with the benefits of knowing that even my sins have been forgiven, my life has purpose, and my eternal future is secure.

For most families that starts with baptism - the starting pistol of the Christian life. Often nicknamed 'christening' (that is 'Christian-ing', because baptism means being marked out publicly as a Christian), baptism in the case of a child is when parents declare their Christian faith and say that they want to pass on that same faith to their child.

As one of the two sacraments of the Christian church, it is a serious matter and the promises are not ones to be taken lightly - that is why I will always meet with parents to go through what is involved in the promises (in another context, if someone signed you up for something without explaining what was involved, you could sue them for mis-selling - as with the whole PPI fiasco).

Because it is true that you never really own the Christian faith - you just look after it for the next generation.