The page of this weblog titled My Christianity has been updated with the following addition.
After confirmation, as well as attending St. Mary’s regularly I continued to attend Viv’s home group, formerly the confirmation class, which we now called the Growth Group since the confirmation ceremony. My attendance at both the church and the group became, after a while, something of a routine. That is not to say I wasn’t learning, I was especially from the group, where we could talk frankly and discuss almost anything freely with one another.
At the time of writing this update in 2013, I am still a member of that group. I am happy to say that everyone in the group are not just fellow travellers on their Christian journeys but are my friends too. Although I am not the youngest member of the group, I am youngest in terms of coming to the Christian faith.
For all my new found faith and learning, there was little practical Christianity involved, just theory at that stage. Looking back, that was probably just part of my development as a Christian, not that development or growth should or ever does reach an end point. My first practical involvement was probably at the inspiration of an wonderful American Lady, and I do mean Lady, not just female, Louisa who is married to an Englishman, and is still part of the Growth Group albeit that she now attends a different church.
Louisa might, to some English people, be thought of as a typical yank; loud, brash and opinionated and yes, she is all these things. She is also inspiring, radical, clever, caring and far more sensitive than I realised for a very long time, being a bit stoic and unemotional myself.
I had become a Sidesman in St. Mary’s, which really consisted of little more than handing out hymn books and assisting with the Sunday collection, and I occasionally lent a hand to some of the church’s events. At those events I seemed to spend a lot of time going up and down the 119 steps of St, Mary’s tower. It was my job to shepherd visitors to the tower when it was open. It is the highest place in the town, with the best views of the surrounding area.
It was Louisa who first suggested that I should become a member of the District Church Committee (DCC, the name for, effectively, St. Mary’s management committee) and she nominated me in 2009, to which I was elected in the same year and served for 3 years. My involvement in practical matters was slowly growing.
In that same year of 2009, Viv. and Tim the vicars for St. Mary’s left for a new calling, to lead a Church in Bolton. Viv. has, I think, a gift for spotting in people talent and potential that they sometimes don’t themselves realise they have. Before she left, and to my great surprise, Viv. asked me to take over her leadership of the Growth Group. I tend to think of myself more the coordinator of the group’s activities, rather than being an actual leader.
There have been some successes for the group and a few less successful ventures too but, on the whole I think, and I hope, I have managed it quite well. I have had lots of support from the members and I am sure our success is due to more to Louisa, Emma, Jenny, Steve and Jacquie. The group still meets as I write this update in 2013.
In 2010, I was asked to become a prayer intercessor for St. Mary’s, so about once every two months since then I write and then read out in the main Sunday service, the intercession prayer for the week. I suspect that some of my early attempts at writing a prayer for a congregation were a bit disjointed. I hope that now, I get the balance and flow about right most of the time.
As for my personal prayers, perhaps I could learn something from what I write in the intercessions. My own prayers are not as regular, or thoughtful as they ought to be. I tend to pray more in times of stress, need or sadness, than I do to give praise and thanks for the good things. It should not be like that.
Having discovered that I can write prayers, I was inspired to see if … I could turn my hand to some other writing too. My first writing attempt was a fictional script for a radio news interview with Mary Magdalene, just after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I like to try and tell well known Bible Stories in different ways, for example I told the Christmas story through a series of imagined letters between Mary and her Cousin Elizabeth, as if they were pen-pals. I also like to fill in some of the blanks in the bible with imaginary, or you if you prefer fictional, detail like the conversation between the disciples Jesus sent to get the donkey before his triumphal ride into Jerusalem, on what we call Palm Sunday.
More recently I have been keeping a weblog, or blog, which I have called Entertaining Angels (http//:jandws.wordpress.com). To date I have managed keep it updated at least weekly, sometimes more often when a sudden thought occurs.
In the summer 2012, I was given early retirement from my job under a major staff reduction programme, that is still not finished now in 2013. I had been with the same employer for almost 40 years, after joining them from school.
I never have, and do not now, read The Bible every day but while I was working I read a daily reflection or prayer each morning. I had found the ideal time and place to do this was at 7:00 am, at my office desk. At that early hour I was often the first and only person in the office and, since it always took a few minutes from switching on my computer until it was ready to use, I had time to read the day’s reflection.
2012 turned out to be an eventful year. In the summer as well as my retirement, Wendy and I were asked by our Niece, Kelly, and her husband to be godparents to our Great Nephew, Arthur George; The Christening was in early September and took place in St. John’s Church, Healaugh. There were to be four Godparents and as Kelly introduced Wendy and I to the vicar, I had to laugh as she said to him, “these are the two that believe in this”.
Later in September, the Growth Group started a new venture for St. Marys, the Coffee, Christ and Chat Bible Café, now called the 3C Bible Café. On the 4th Sunday of each month, in St. Mary’s Coffee Bar, we hold a half hour discussion of the day’s Bible reading, with music and a reflection. This might be the first time I really lead anything. To get 3C going for the first few months I would find the discussion starters, music and reflections and the other Growth Groupies (as I address them in my e-mails) run the coffee bar.
In April of 2013, I had to redistribute some of the things I did for the church. I resigned as a Sidesman and enlisted extra help from the Growth Groupies to run the 3C Bible Café. It was not that I was giving up, or decreasing my involvement with St. Mary’s. On the contrary, I became even more involved by taking up the position of a Church Warden.
Our oldest and now former warden, Terry, had, after serving for 3 years decided to step down and had been hinting to me, since September 2012, that I might be a suitable replacement. In January 2013 our other Warden, Kath, who was remaining in position, also started a bit of gentle arm twisting for me to join her. Suffice to say that at St. Mary’s annual general meeting in March I was elected to the post of warden, with which went automatic membership of the DCC too. I was formally, legally installed to the post of warden in May, by the Archdeacon of Malmsbury, Christine Froude. at her visitation to Christ Church in Downend.
Sometimes I think that Christianity is like going uphill, Occasionally it’s a gentle slope to stroll up. Sometimes it gets steep and you might need to scramble a bit. And sometimes, the only way you can keep climbing is if someone up above throws you a rope but, as every climber and mountaineer knows well, once in a while you can stop, rest on a ledge and look back at the view….. Wheewhew, isn’t it wonderful.