Monday, 23 November 2009
It was special! Not the service itself, certainly the all too well used phrase 'the worship did nothing for me' could justifiably be applied as it was relative chaos with musical mistakes aplenty (aka Jazz!) and the usual undercurrents that happen in churches all going on....
So why was it special? We started with the blockbuster 'Crown Him with many Crowns' (celebrating 'Christ The King') blasted out on the organ and I was delighted to see the Baptism family guests enthusiastically singing along for starters. As the service moved along we sang 'The River', with its provenance of inspiration from tragedy and forgiveness. The sermon was a familiar message (albeit with theology that makes me squirm somewhat) then the ceremony was lovely, kids running around, a 'Happy Christening Day' balloon floating aloft and the Junior Church singing.
For the last hymn we brought on a late sub, swapping a trad hymn for a song the baptism parents had sung at their wedding, 'Give me oil in my lamp'. Again, that was belted out with obvious joy and exuberance despite, in many quarters, being thought of as naff and passé.
Even though this family have only been coming to church relatively recently as part of their Baptism preparation they had laid on abundant munchies and cake, choosing to celebrate with our worshipping community in the church hall during our regular coffeetime... what a spread! It was during this that I was completely floored by a comment from the mum... 'this (as in 'coming to church') is my constant at the moment'... wow, suddenly that little phrase made everything worthwhile. And, unsurprisingly, it also made everything else a total nonsense, all the other church crap we worry and obsess about. Through our flawed efforts and imperfections this had become Holy!
I was recently reminded, when listening to a talk Frank Schaeffer gave at Greenbelt 2008, about how we attempt to rationalise the sacraments. Therefore we assume, in human terms, that it is not 'right' for a child to receive Holy Baptism until they can make up their own minds yet we acknowledge a mother whispering to her newly born 'I love you' is fine despite knowing the babe is unable to actually understand what is being said. It came home to me so powerfully to allow God to act in a 'mysterious way' we need to forsake our human rationality.
And God saw (to it) that it was good!