I wonder if you have ever looked closely at the font in the sanctuary at Roberts Park. It is dedicated in memory of Hannah A Towsey. The story behind that is recorded elsewhere, but today I want to focus on the font itself, and its placement. Traditionally the font is placed near to the main entrance door of a church used by the public. Fonts are often placed at or near the entrance to a church’s main sanctuary to remind believers of their baptism as they enter the church to pray, since the rite of baptism served as their initiation into the Church. In many churches of the Middle Ages and Renaissance there was a special chapel or even a separate building for housing the baptismal fonts, called a baptistery. Both fonts and baptisteries were often octagonal (eight-sided). I wonder if you noticed that design on the font at Roberts Park? Saint Ambrose wrote that fonts and baptisteries were octagonal “because on the eighth day, by rising, Christ loosens the bondage of death and receives the dead from their graves.” Saint Augustine similarly described the eighth day as “everlasting… hallowed by the resurrection of Christ”.
The placement of the font in Roberts Park follows the traditional Protestant church design (favored by Wesley), where there are two aisles. The Font is placed on the left side of the church, as you face the communion table and pulpit. Brides who enter do so by the left aisle, symbolic of the entry into a new life and after the marriage leave by the right aisle. In a funeral the casket is brought into the church down the right aisle and then after the service leave by the left aisle, passing the font on the way out. Our entry into the church, a new life in marriage and in our death, the font reminds of our dying to sin and rising again to new life.
It was a joy today, along with Pastor Melissa, some members of the Greys Fellowship, together with regular attenders of the ‘twenty minutes for God’ service to welcome Rob Robinson into the church by baptism and profession of faith. We wish him well as he continues to serve God in the life of Roberts Park.
May we all remember our baptism and the call of God in our lives.