From Crosscanonby Gallery

At the church at St John the Evangelist at Crosscanonby, Cumbria, there is a fine public gallery. Once, most parish churches had these, so more could be squeezed in to hear the preaching of God’s word. In the nineteenth century, most were removed as the clergy sought to make the parish churches more Roman Catholic, with an emphasis on admiring an altar rather than concentrating on a sermon. Those with galleries offer the visitor and distracted worshipper unique views of the goings-on below. The first thing I noticed was the font, and a very fine example it is, too. Another post will deal with this, but see now its location: right next to the door.

Now I’m not pedobaptist, dipping infants in order to wash away sin or regenerate them. I would sooner baptise a grown sinner, be they adult or child. If from sin they repent and upon Christ’s name they call, baptise them we shall. Yet there is something rather appealing about standing by the church door holding an infant over a font. Symbolically, it shows them entering the community of faith, appearing by the threshold which, for hundreds of years, their forbears would have passed in. This may be the key difference between the two understandings of baptism. The font shows one joining the church, the other, being joined to Christ. Dipping a child welcomes it to a community of people, dunking a believer shows him dying and being reborn. I favour the immersing believers over sprinkling children because salvation is about coming to Christ not coming to church.

You may associate with a church, you may even attend it, but have you ever been to Jesus Himself?