One of the most disquieting aspects of our secularized society is the way some of faith's most treasured traditions have become devalued, trivialized and usurped. I vividly recall a baptism in which the parents, who were marginal members of the congregation I served, requested four front rows be reserved for friends and family for the baptism of their daughter. I of course agreed.
The baptism was early in the service, and it went off without a hitch. But the moment it was over, the 40 or so friends and family stood and walked out of the sanctuary. I looked at my watch--it was 11:18. It was only the next day that I learned that the early departure was due to an 11:30 "baptismal brunch" at the country club.