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From the Clergy

Living the Baptised life

Baptism gives us a call to change and grow all through our lives.

My topic last time I wrote was Christenings – the baptisms of babies and young children that our churches are blessed with. I talked about how faith takes root among these families more deeply and more frequently than we might imagine, and how we might make a special effort to welcome and encourage such families.

This month I want to talk about our team theme, to be launched on our team day on the 24th of January. That theme is Baptism in its widest sense. In part this year that will mean for some churches focussing on improving the ministry we offer to families coming for baptisms. But it is much more than that.

As I mentioned last time, for most of us Baptism will be an unremembered ceremony from our infancy. But Baptism is not a rite of passage or a childhood naming ceremony. My training incumbent was fond of pointing out to schools that tried to shoehorn Baptism into curricula as a rite of passage alongside other faiths’ childhood ceremonies, Baptism is a rite of Initiation.

In other words, Baptism is about a beginning – not the beginning of a biological life, even if that association persists in our culture. It is the beginning of a Christian journey, a new way of living, a new vocation.

If we are baptized Christians we have a vocation, a call to discipleship. One of the reasons the baptism of infants is theologically justified is that Jesus made it clear that his call of discipleship was as appropriate for children as adults – maybe even more so, as children are expected to learn and grow, whilst unfortunately by the time we are adults we think we know it all and feel we cannot change!

Baptism gives us a call to change and grow all through our lives, and on the team day and throughout the year we will have opportunities to explore what that means for each of us.

I’d like to conclude with a description of the rite of Baptism in the early Church from David Bentley Hart’s excellent Atheist Delusions (p112/3):

“Baptism would come on Easter eve, during the midnight vigil. At the appointed hour the person to be baptized would depart the church for the baptistery, which typically housed a large baptismal pool or (if possible) a flowing stream. There, in the semi-darkness of that place he or she would disrobe and – amid a host of blessing, exhortations, unctions and prayers – descend naked into the waters, to be immersed three times by the bishop, in the name first of the Father, then of the Son, and finally of the Holy Spirit. The newly baptized Christian would then emerge from the waters to be anointed with the oil of chrismation, the seal of the Holy Spirit, and to don a new garment of white, and would return to the church to see the Eucharist celebrated – and to partake of it – for the first time. On that night, the erstwhile catechumen would have died to his or her old life and received a new and better life in Christ.”

This year we are challenged, encouraged, called afresh to explore what our new lives in Christ might be.

Rev Andrew Quigley, Team Vicar


Mothers' Union

Action and Outreach

It is not always comfortable at Mothers' Union meetings

Jeannie Brightwell from Market Harborough MU attended a meeting in Glenfield organised by the Mothers’ Union Action and Outreach unit with speeches and a buffet lunch.

The morning speaker was Barbara Taylor from the Children’s Society, in the afternoon Clarti Kotecho from SAFE was welcomed.

Children's Society

Barbara Taylor touched on all the many areas in which children are supported by the society.  Over 23,000 children were helped last year.  Thousands run away each year (enough to more than fill Wembley Stadium!).  On being returned home the children, parents and family members are given continuous support. The society now runs nine centres for runaway children.

Also in need are young carers. The government has been approached to set up legislation to give these young people help and support.  There are 166,000 children who are actual carers, caring for a parent, a sibling, a disabled person or someone who is ill or affected by drugs or alcohol.  There are also the children ‘in care’ who need support and this can mean children in foster homes as well as children’s homes.

The Children's Society has 130 years of involvement with the care of young people and this is but a tiny selection of all the work they do. Three words are their goals:

Also in need are young carers. The government has been approached to set up legislation to give these young people help and support.  There are 166,000 children who are actual carers, caring for a parent, a sibling, a disabled person or someone who is ill or affected by drugs or alcohol.  There are also the children ‘in care’ who need support and this can mean children in foster homes as well as children’s homes.

The Children's Society has 130 years of involvement with the care of young people and this is but a tiny selection of all the work they do. Three words are their goals:

LOVE
JUSTICE
FORGIVENESS

 

Q. How can we help?
A. By having a Children’s Society box

http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/


SAFE

After lunch Clarti Kotecha gave a very disturbing talk that Jeannie found very distressing to listen to.  SAFE, which stands for Support, Advocacy, Freedom, Empowerment, is an organisation to help and safeguard young women from ‘gender violence’, which we know as female genital mutilation (FGM).

The practice has been illegal in this country since 1985 and yet up to date there have been no known prosecutions.  In the UK approximately 170,000 young women, some as young as eleven or twelve years old have been through this ordeal.  A senior female member of the family or a friend usually performs the mutilation but sometimes girls are sent overseas.  Usually, to carry out this procedure, several girls are gathered together and it is frequently a call for celebration in a close-knit community.  Because this barbaric practice is not done in surgeries but in non-sterile conditions in their own home, without the aid of surgical instruments and as far as we know no anaesthetic, the outcome is often serious infection and mutilation that many of the young girls do not recover from. 

Clarti told the audience that there is nothing written in the Koran or any other religious publication that states that this procedure is necessary, it is purely cultural and nothing to do with religion.  Groups who believe in ‘gender violation’ are often surrounded by myths passed down through generations.

The SAFE organisation operates in Leicester and is funded by Leicester City Council, but this funding is limited.

When asked, Clarti said that she didn’t know how many other councils in the United Kingdom found funding for this work.

 

Q. What can we do?
A. Please pray!

http://www.safedvs.co.uk

 

Reported by Doreen Brown