Last summer I baptized my friend’s daughter. Though small and wiggly, the baptizand remained calm in the arms of her father as I gently poured water over her head. Her godparents and older brother crowded around the font, and another priest held the liturgy for me as I prayed and blessed this newest member of the church.
In my Anglican tradition, the congregation participates in this blessing and vows to help raise the newly baptized as a member of God’s family. That morning they proclaimed, “We receive you into the fellowship of the Church. Confess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim his resurrection, and share with us in the royal priesthood of all his people.” As I heard the voices beside, behind, and before me, I was struck by how many bodies necessarily participate in the baptism of one person.
The rite of baptism is corporeal and communal. It is the initiation of a physical body, a human being, into the social and spiritual body of Christ, the church. Baptism ...1