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- Page 5

  • Irregularity without Invalidity

    I love the technical episcopalian (in the broad sense of the word, not any denomination of a similar title) description of free church ordination as 'irregular but not invalid.'  I do wonder if, at a stretch, I could claim mine ought to seen as 'regular' since one of the people who laid hands on me was an Anglican priest, but hey, who really cares?!

    This week in the course of various conversations, various thorny topics have arisen to which this same phrase offers some helpful - I think - perspective.  (None of this gets my essay done, but it will happen, honestly!)

    So, for example, someone was involved in a churches together forum discussing inter-faith marriage and was sharing how there had been some 'textual ping-pong' over the apparent prohibition of the 'unequal yoke' the concept of salvation via a believing spouse and some of the OT occasions where the Israelites were commanded to intermarry.  Having married a couple of (nominally) different faiths in an overtly Christian ceremony, maybe I'm already irredeemably compromised, but I am convinced that if 'unusual' (a softer word than irregular) the marriage is 100% valid not just in law, but also in the sight of God.  And in any case, I still hope God turns out to be universalist, despite doctrines otherwise and my own inability to get there theologically.

    Another example was about infant Baptism in an LEP and what part the Baptist minister ought to play - assuming that she/he was not willing to baptise infants.  The question that especially fascinated me was at what stage (deliberate choice of word rather than 'age') a request regarding a minor should be seen as believer Baptism rather than infant Baptism?  Some of all of this depends on what one believes Baptism 'does' (if anything other than get the person extremely wet).  This isn't a simplistic 'sacrament v ordinance' argument since there seem to be a whole range of variations of theologies within each of those broad perspectives.  Maybe I am an even bigger heretic, but as a literal anabaptist (Methodist infant, Baptist believer) and having thought long and hard (10+ years!) before being Baptised/re-baptised (depending on your take on it all) I am very loathe to dismiss as automatically invalid a rite that expresses something important theologically - even if many theologies of infant baptism I cannot begin to subscribe to.  My own view on requests from younger 'minors' for Baptism would probably echo those of many of my peers in other traditions to requests for confirmation: I'd spend some time carefully exploring with the young person what their request meant and then (because in my heretic theology there is no salvific function in Baptism so delay doesn't matter (cf the RC priest who said of my niece at her baptism, this means that she is now guaranteed to go to heaven, and presumably wasn't beforehand)) ask them to come back to me in 6 months to a years time if they still wished to proceed, whilst in the meantime endeavouring to support their nurture.  This isn't about doubting their sincerity, but acknowledging the reality that in young children there can be intense, shortlived passions.  I know that Corrie ten Boom made a profund faith commitment at the age of 5, but I suspect she still accepted the disciplines of her church.  When does it stop being infant baptism and become believer baptism - that is a really fascinating question!

    I like weeks that stir my grey cells a little.  Although I wouldn't choose to drive the great part of 1000 miles during a working week, it has given me some thinking space, which has been valuable.  Now I really must stop the distraction tactics and do some work!

  • Dumping...

    Sometimes a blog is useful just as a space to dump stuff that is unprocessed or even trivial but is 'better out than in.'

    It's been an odd week.  So far I driven about 450 miles, I have about another 250 tomorrow.  I have seen a lot of motorway, burned a lot of diesel and listened to a fair amount of Radio2 and Classic FM.  I have seen lots of people, some I know well, some I met for the first time, and have talked about all manner of things to do with church life and ministry.  At the time of typing I have just concluded a deacons' meeting that was blooming hard work.  As I closed the door and banged my head (gently) against the wall, I reflected that I'd almost prefer a 'bad' deacons meeting to a turgid one.  Sorry lovely deacon-type people, I know you are all tired and stressed and probably would rather have stayed home with a bottle of wine than signed umpteen legal documents and talked about all the things that are struggling due to lack of personnel.

    The thing that has troubled me most today was the man who was killed in a queue in Sainsbury's.  I can't quite get my head around how two families went out to do their shopping, and now all their lives are irrevocably changed.  Clearly neither of them went out to pick a fight, and neither went out to kill or be killed.  Now one man lies in a mortuary and the other has been arrested for his killing.  I have a mental image of orange plastic carrier bags, dented tins, broken glass and spilled milk strewn across a shop floor as some kind of grotesque marker of what happened.  I find myself needing to pray for both families.  And I am left with an unanswerable question of how someone can go out to do their food shop and end up killing someone else.  This man's life, too, is in tatters, his dreams destroyed, his future redefined.  It's one of those situations that drives you to the psalms in search of words to express the questions to which you know you will not find answers.

    I still haven't started on my essay re-write - it's scheduled to start on Saturday, so I hope for a good productive day.  So still not much posting for a while longer.  Whilst I can honestly say I haven't exactly missed posting, it is also good to know that this channel is here should I need somewhere to dump stuff.  It has also been good over the last few days to put faces to few more of you loyal readers and connect up a few more of the dots in this weird family of Baptists!

  • Rumblings

    My Dad used to say of people who spoke twaddle that they 'opened their mouths and their bellies rumbled.'

    I have a feeling I have been rumbling quite a lot recently, mainly because I'm totally whacked and more than a little brain dead.  So, I'm going to take a break from posting for a while until I have a bit more energy AND more importantly have a fit for purpose essay to submit at the end of June.

    I don't think I'll manage to quite as sporadic as some of my 'betters' (if not elders!) in posting but I feel a bit of 'me time' doing not a lot is of greater important at the moment than the fun and insights I get from blogging.

    So, for a little while their will be less rumbling from this corner of blogland!

  • Ouch!

    Today I needed diesel for my car and it was 130.9p a litre.  Ouch.  Evidently we have the dearest fuel in Leicestershire.  I pity those who get paid around minimum wage and still have to travel to work by car and those who live in remote areas where filling stations have no competition to limit the prices.

  • FHB for the BSS

    FHB - family hold back - a phrase I first encountered in the North West but which I am led to believe originates from the West Midlands.  The BSS is our next outreach event - The Big Summer Sing, a songs of praise style invitation service to be followed by a 'strawberry tea'.  I'm not entirely sure what the latter is, since the butties seem to be the same as for any other tea; the defining quality seems to be the dish of strawberries and evaporated milk that follows.

    Yesterday I was chivvying up our lunch club folk to pick their hymns as I had only one request - for 'Abide with Me'; perennially popular, guaranteed to flood the place with tears and inevitably linked to funerals.  By the time I left I had 17 hymns and songs - far too many for one service.  So, what to do?  In the end I decided to go with the FHB approach, and start with those chosen by non-church people and then add in one or two chosen by church folk who don't normally pick hymns.  In the end I have eight, plus a recording of 'You raise me up' (is that a hymn?) for the BSS.  Then the Sunday afterwards we will have 'BSS-2: family favourites' using the songs and hymns requested by church folk.  Not sure we'll have strawberries two weeks running, but maybe I can persuade someone to make us some scones or cakes for family tea?

    A nice problem to have - and we will quietly lose 'Abide with Me' from the running order, as those who asked for it subsequently put in a further request...