Sunday, March 09, 2014

Disciplined Hope

Flat out for the past 3 days, so my "Disciplined hope" blogging is coming in a thoroughly undisciplined lump...
However, there were some very special moments - so perhaps it's worth it.
Friday saw "Cardboard City", a sponsored sleep-out in the church-yard of St Lawrence, our town centre church, in aid of MARAH - the homeless support charity of which I'm currently a trustee.
The event was designed to raise awareness as much as to raise money - and was quite staggeringly moving, in the end.
I'd not really thought through how it might feel to worship with 30 assorted people who had voluntarily agreed to spend the night in a cold churchyard, simply to show that they cared. As we sang and prayed and heard a cracking sermon " As Christians we stand in unconditional solidarity with the poor and marginalised" I realised that for once, the Church was living up to her calling. As I watched the group of voluntary rough-sleepers straggle out of the church, their homes bundled up in bin bags for the night, I glimpsed for a moment what that sort of costly solidarity could be like - and it was so utterly beautiful.
God stands in solidarity with us - showing us how it is done. To see a Church!

Saturday was a much gentler day - if you leave aside the fact that it lasted through the hours of the Cardboard City Prayer Vigil so that by the time I arrived at St Matthew's coffee morning the following morning I'd already had nearly enough of Saturday! However, there were signs of hope - above all, the Y3 whom I'm to baptise in a couple of weeks - who brought him mum along to the coffee morning, so that they could begin to learn what it might feel like to be part of the church family. His contact has been entirely through school - so their presence in the church hall amid our elderly regulars was a huge affirmation not only of W's longing to belong but of the strengthening ties between church and school that have been so much part of my work here.

And then came Sunday - with 5 baptisms - 4 for my delightful neighbours opposite, whose 3 daughters and infant son joined the Church this afternoon. Here the sign of hope came from M., aged 5, whose enthusiasm for the whole proceedings was such that her answer to all the questions was, again and again, with ever increasing volume and joy "YES"
By the time we got to "Do you believe in the Holy Spirit who gives life to the people of God and makes Christ known in the world" I was encouraging everyone to abandon the script and just shout along with Molly  "YES, YES, YES". It's not often that a baptism candidate is so full of delight in the proceedings - she also asked for another go when one of her sisters seemed a bit dubious about the process. Oh for a church full of those whose response to God is "Yes, yes, YES!"

1 comment:

Chris said...

Wonderful, wonderful (wonderful)! Hope indeed, through all these activities :-)