Plans are coming togther well for our Baptism service a week on Sunday, I have even managed to find a suitable card to give from the Church as well as one from me. Now it is just the small matter of a suitable gift, and here I'm a bit stuck for ideas. From me as a person, I'm going to give an anthology of Christian poetry, but what to get from Church? Our candidate already has a fairly new, up to date Bible and I bought her and her husband a Salvadorean cross as one of their wedding gifts. I did spot some commemorative candles on Ebay at £10 plus postage but am not overly enamoured with that idea. M is a thinking person who would not be an appropiate recipient of Patience Strong or anything of the 'Power of the Praying Thingamagig' ilk. I feel that something in a spirituality/devotional/prayer line would be good but I'm not sure what and I don't have time to tour every Christian book shop in a 10 mile radius to find something. Any thoughts?
The words 'One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism' were painted over the baptistry of the church where I was dunked. It is a fantastic baptistry - large, deep, wide and (importantly, in my view) the water is lovely and warm!! The words are, of course, a teeny extract from Ephesians 4, but they seem to speak in a way of what we are going to do a week on Sunday when we borrow one congregation's building and baptistry heaters from two others to overcome the incredible coldness of the water. OK, I'm, nesh, I admit it, though I have swum in the North Sea which contrindicates.
Granted the post title is a clumsy blend of the apostle's words and a later hymnwriter (Edward Hayes Plumptre Thy hand, O God, has Guided), but I think it works.
One church - one tradition in several locations (it gets further complicated as one baptistry heater will be collected from an intermediate venue!) and part of the world wide church
One faith - that unites us whether we are in Leicestershire or Nottinghamshire, Cheshire or Timbuctoo
One Baptism - well, yes, literally one for us, but our heated water will also serve three or four others the same day in the same building.
There seems something theologically right about the messyness, manyness, borrowedness, sharedness, impermanence, permanence, connectedness, interconnectedness, separateness and even, dare I say, Baptistness of what we are involved with. Somehow it earths, grounds, demonstrates, illustrates what the apostle said. And it will be good to be part of it.
I am starting to plan for our upcoming Baptismal service. I am hoping that members of the candidate's family will come to the service, and certainly am planning my readings/sermon to reflect that hope. I have been trawling hymn/song books and now, having splashed out £65 for the privilege, Hymnquest, in search of hymns/songs to flesh out the service around the one or two items that will be chosen (not because that's all I'd allow, because that's how many are likely to be adequately significant to get chosen).
So, off I set, seeking Baptism as a theme/heading (so BPW/BHB then, though Hymnquest offers it as a theme). If one uses the more popular evangelical/charismatic books, one could be forgiven for thinking no one did Baptism anymore since the heading simply is not there. Even in Hymnquest it is mostly infant Baptism songs built on a covenant theology for inclusion of children - not quite the thing for a 70-something believer!
So here's a challenge for those decent Baptist/baptistic hymn-writers out there - write us something decent for believer Baptism please. Or, failing that, maybe think of suitable verses to add to the likes of 'Jesus calls us here to meet him' (I got as far as 'Jesus calls us to the waters' then ran out of steam!)
We will most probably be using (in addition to the candidate's choice(s)) those listed below; the last four are the 'getting changed' songs!!
Jesus call us here to meet Him (Iona)
Take this moment, sign and space (Iona)
O Jesus I have promised (J E Bode)
River, wash over me (David Brown)
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me (Albert Orsborn)
In my life, Lord, be glorified (Bob Kilpatrick)
Jesus, take me as I am (Dave Bryant)
If anyone has any useful suggestions/additions please let me know.
This Sunday is our Churches Together One World Week service. Quite when the OWW organsiation and the churches got so out on synchon dates I don't know, but OWW is now early in the year and the service remains in October. All this is a bit of an aside really, to wondering what other Churches Together groups share by way of services? Our current pattern is that we share the following (arranged to fit the liturgical year!):
Advent 3 - Outreach Carol event (evening, with food, lots of)
Christmas Eve - Christingle to support denominational(-ish) children's charities
Christmas Day - united celebration service
Week of prayer for Christian Unity - united service (afternoon)
Ash Wednesday - Anglicans invite free churches along
Lent - joint study groups
Good Friday - united outreach event, morning
Easter Sunday - joint Methodist-Baptist breakfast service
Ascension - united service with communion; rite of host church
Pentecost - united outreach event (afternoon)
OWW - united service (afternoon)
This seems to me to be a good level of co-operation and shared worship with at least part of every major festival being spent/celebrated together. I'm not going to pretend there aren't any politics or huffs, because there are certainly both, but what we do find is that outreach is 'better together' with people usually impressed to discover that Christians can work with, rather than against, each other. I wonder what others think?
Plus some cheese, eggs, ham, sausage rolls, cake, tea, coffee, fourteen hymns/songs and forty-five people squeezed into one lounge to praise God.
Today was our (new this year!) quarterly lunch club service where we go out to where members live and do a songs of praise service and tea. This time we hit parity on numbers - as many folk who are not part of our regular congregation as are. Well, OK if you include me there was one more of us, we didn't have two half people.
Things that I find about these events are...
- no one can believe we do this for no charge and with no collection
- we have finally got to the stage where enough church folk just get on and do what is needed without having to be asked, cajoled or rostered to do it (though it still falls to the minister to supply a few folding chairs which we now seem to need wherever we go)
- people really enjoy singing the hymns, seem to value the prayers and listen carefully to the 5 minute thought for the day
- the buzz, laughter, sense of well-being and life-giving is enormous
- we always have enough baskets of left-overs to feed a few folk for Monday lunch!
Today's reading combined the Revelation 7 vision of people of all tribes, nations and tongues with the Johanine promise of many mansions and divine shalom. If the realisation of these visions or metaphors extends to the fulfilment what we shared a glimpse of today then they will be truly wonderful. One of my throw away comments was that maybe if heaven was like a house with many rooms it would be a bit like the sheltered complex - to which one 95 year-old responded "ooh, what a lovely thought.' I hope, then, for her, that it is.