That was the tally, roughly, for this Sunday’s baptism, which looked a little like this:
I’d mentioned this large group in a post on Saturday, and some people were shocked. I was a little apprehensive about it myself — my wife, “Minister of the Towel and Oils” had misgivings, too. The last time I’d baptized a large group, 12, it was a madhouse. Between the bawling babies and chattering godparents and laughing and thigh-slapping friends and neighbors, I should have used a megaphone instead of a microphone.
This time, thankfully, it was much saner.
There was a steady hum throughout much of the ritual — which, from “What name do you give your child” to “Go in peace” took about 45 minutes — but the throng was largely respectful and appreciative. I credit that to my pre-ritual announcement, which laid down the law and went something like this:
“Okay. We have a large group here this Sunday — a VERY large group. I’m going to ask a couple things. First, be patient. Second, be respectful. And third, be prayerful. Ladies and gentlemen, I want to remind you: this is not a catering hall or a beer garden. This is a house of God. And we are in the presence of Jesus Christ, in the tabernacle. We are celebrating something here, but it’s a sacrament we are celebrating. It’s not a party. Keep the conversation to a minimum. I’m going to ask that you be mindful of where we are and what we are doing. Take all the pictures you want, but stay in one place. Don’t run around like paparazzi chasing Britney Spears. And with some cooperation and common sense, this should go very smoothly. Okay?”
And, it did.
Baptisms, like weddings, tend to draw a lot of people and family members who don’t regularly go to church. They’re happy, sometimes raucous affairs. It can be a challenge to set the right tone and keep things on track. A lot of times, people just don’t know any better.
But sometimes, a little discipline can only help.
Now I know why nuns always carried rulers.