Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Baptism in the Directory for Public Worship

Yesterday, I read Rowland Ward's section in the book Scripture and Worship: Biblical Interpretation and the Directory for Worship (P&R Publishing, 2007) dealing with the Directory for Public Worship--the oft overlooked but very helpful other document produced by the Westminster Assembly.

A couple of interesting historical tidbits stuck out at me as I read Ward's section, and then the Directory itself: First, it was part of the Directory for Public Worship's advice on administration of Baptism that the father of the child being baptized "profess his earnest desire that the child may be baptized," in front of the congregation at the time of baptism. That seems similar to the practice we have at Communion Presbyterian Church of asking the father "Why do you wish for your child to be baptized?" and allowing the father to share (or "profess") his reasons for his earnest desire.

Also, in the Scottish Presbyterian churches, baptism followed the sermon (as opposed to the private baptisms often administered in England), which we also practice at Communion Pres. I've seen baptism administered at different points in the service, but it makes sense to me that the seal be preceded by what is being sealed (the promises of the Word of God). Two small historical observations, as I prepare for next week's Adult Sunday School class at Communion Presbyterian Church!

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