I’ve got a question for you guys. When it comes to baptism some people dunk, some people sprinkle. Some of us are paedobaptists, and some hold a credobaptist conviction. My question is for every situation.
We just had an interesting baptism in our church that you don’t see often. It was of an older married couple who are fairly new Christians. What a beautiful thing to witness. I was full of emotion and honored to witness such a blessing. I am also overwhelmed when I see infants baptized, given the sign and seal of the covenant of grace as non-communicant members of our church. But there is always an awkward moment, and that is where my question comes in.
How do you celebrate this moment? Let me ask you readers, do you clap in your church after a baptism? Our church congregation doesn’t. There’s no policy about it in the Book of Church Order or anything. I don’t think I would be reprimanded for a celebratory outburst. But since it is so silent, I feel like I would be distracting attention toward myself more than glorifying God. My husband and I struggle in this tension. We both want to jump up and give hugs, or do something to rejoice at what just happened.
And yet, it is a reverent moment, the sacrament of baptism. We don’t want to behave like the person just scored a touchdown. This is a celebration far greater than any accomplishment of man. In this sense, clapping seems kind of trivial and cheap. After all, it’s terribly inadequate to clap for God and his amazing grace. But there I am, bursting inside, as the baptized person just quietly takes their seat. It’s like that scene from A Christmas Story after Ralphie turns in his theme paper. He gets caught in a daydream in which the teacher gives him an A+++ and his classmates boost him on their shoulders for a victory lap around the classroom, all while he’s still standing at her desk. His teacher’s voice snaps him out of it as she gently yet firmly tells him, “You can take your seat now.” All the cheers in his head are abruptly interrupted by the classroom giggles. Back to his seat he goes.
Sure, we strategically place the newly baptized at the exit door for congratulations and welcome at the end of the service. That’s when I can get my hug. But Matt and I always talk about that awkward moment on the way home.
I would love to hear your thoughts. And maybe someone has a theological explanation for me here. What response does your congregation give after a baptism? ‘Cause all I have going on right now is laser eye contact with a really big smile.