In the coming couple of
months there are a number of baptisms booked in at St Martin’s for children whose families I have already got some connection
with. A couple are second children, whose elder sibling was baptised here by me during the past four or so years; one child
is the son of a couple I married in 2017. It’s lovely to make visits in these instances and to see how the family is
getting on. Many of the babies and young children I’ve baptised since I arrived at St Martin’s are now at school
or very soon will be – they soon grow up, as the saying goes!
many of these are regular visitors to church, however, and this is maybe something we need to give some careful thought to.
Yes, life is busy and pressured for young families, but we try and make time for those things that are important to us. We
must consider prayerfully how we engage with these families and help them explore and discover how God, faith and worship,
in the context of being part of the community of believers in church, can be important elements in their lives – and
in time, the context in which their whole life is lived.
neighbours at St Mary Magdalene are exploring what they call a ‘culture of invitation’ – better equipping
members of the congregation to encourage others to come along to worship and faith-based events and not being too worried
about the outcome of such invitations but realising God has a part to play in people’s responses. Something we should
be praying about and considering perhaps?
One of the questions I’m
nearly always asked by people looking to book baptisms is ‘How much does it cost?’ It’s sad that people
think that there’s a charge to become a member of God’s church. However, whilst there is no fixed monetary fee,
there is, of course, a cost if people truly respond to what God is doing in their life through baptism. Christian discipleship,
if we undertake it in a committed and serious way, costs us dearly in time and effort and lifestyle, as well as financially.
But the rewards of growing in our faith and getting to know God better, as well as coming to know ourselves better, can far
outweigh the ‘costs’ to us.
But the root of such discipleship
is having enthusiasm and love for that of which we are disciples – of God himself, of all his creation, and of his Church
which he called into being through Christ. How we help people grow into such discipleship has no one simple route, which is
at once both difficult and liberating. Difficult, because helping people grow in faith is never a case of ‘one size
fits all’ – there are no easy solutions or answers; liberating, because it means that there are lots of approaches
and routes, so we will all, though our various gifts and abilities, be able to find our place within the multi-faceted approach
which can be taken and have something valuable to offer..
When something is important to people, or deeply inspires and excites them, risks
are worth taking and time and energy and money become lesser considerations. In the past few days there have been news reports
of the many deaths in recent weeks on Mount Everest, and the number of Tories now lining up as possible replacements for Prime
Minister Theresa May have moved into double figures. I would not want either the risk of scaling Everest or the poisoned chalice
of leading our country at this point in its history. But there are people who embrace both these things (although not both
at once – that, surely, would be foolhardy in the extreme...) and that can only be because they are passionate about
them and find something alluring in the pursuit of such goals.
we grow in our awareness of God in such a way as to be so inspired and excited is something we all should keep in our prayers
through the whole of our Christian life and discipleship. How we help those at the very initial stages of exploring God’s
love in their lives and what that means for them is a different but related question and one which we need to address more
clearly and robustly. It’s an especially appropriate thing to be considering this month as the Bishop of Chester comes
to St Martin’s to preside over the sacrament of Confirmation.
we all be newly inspired in our walk with God and in finding our place within the life, worship and mission of his Church
in these coming weeks.
With my prayers,