The Rev Andy Norris, vicar of St Mary’s, St Faith’s and St Francis’ in Alverstoke talks about his first sea baptism
One of the great privileges of being a vicar is being invited to share in those very special family occasions.
They may be ones of celebration and joy or of course, they may be those of the deepest sadness and sorrow.
One occasion which always fills me with sheer delight is baptism, which is when we as a Christian community welcome new people (children and adults) into the worldwide family of the church.
Baptism usually takes place in a church but a few weeks ago I had the great pleasure of baptising four primary school aged children in the sea at Stokes Bay.
The family have been coming along to the monthly Church Alive services at St Mary’s and they asked if their children could be baptised in the sea.
I thought it was a great idea and it was a first for me.
So, our Church Alive service started in its usual manner at 10.45am in St Mary’s when, for 30 minutes, we enjoyed our coffee along with the contemporary worship and music.
The four children were prepared for the baptism, the family affirmed their Christian faith, and then we all made our way to the beach.
It was very special.
The original word for baptism means to immerse or infuse.
In fact I found out that in Jesus’ time it was also used as the word for pickling.
Just imagine if we could be ‘pickled’ in a pool of pure love – God’s love for us in Jesus.
It would transform us.
For me that is what we were celebrating in the sea with the children - imagining the sea like a hymn puts it: “here is love vast as the ocean”.
It was great to celebrate with that family the amazing beauty of God’s love for each child as they were baptised in the waves.
We continued the celebrations with a shared picnic on the beach.
Do come and join us at Church Alive.
It’s a contemporary and informal form of worship with different learning styles for people of all ages, starting with coffee and pastries.
We meet on the second Sunday of the month.
Our next meeting is this Sunday. Be great to see you there.
ST MARY’S CHURCH
Green Road, Alverstoke, Hants, PO12 2ET
Contact the parish office on (023) 9258 0551.