Five journeys, one destination
Bishop Alan confirmed five adults, ranging in age from late twenties to early seventies, in All Saints, Chedgrave earlier this year. Two of them were also baptised. Five people, five different journeys. The Revd Alison Ball describes the journeys that they local church family have walked with them for several years.
We first met Hugh and Jayne when they came to be married in April 2013. The next day we baptized their daughter, Olivia. We invited them to come to our Fresh Expressions Xpressions Café, and gradually they became regular members. Jayne had attended church as a child with her grandparents and made a decision first; Hugh took a little longer.
Jay’s journey was very different. He came up to us in the street a few years ago: “Hey Rev, how can I learn more about the Bible?” Jay’s facial tattoos mark him out: a sign of the road he has travelled, from a Sunday School background through drugs and prison and out to build a ‘clean’ life back in the community. We offered him Daily Bread and a copy of Luke’s gospel and had further encounters in the street from time to time.
Margaret had an upbringing in a strict religious sect. Despite this she has not been put off religion but, having never been baptized, always felt marginal in the church. When we asked her about communion she said that she had never felt worthy to receive. We encouraged her to accept Jesus’ gracious offer to come and eat at his table and, through further gentle urging, she agreed that maybe she could.
Jamal’s father was Muslim, his mother Christian, though neither was religious in any formal way. Despite this, as he approached his thirties he felt a call to read the Bible, starting at the beginning and reading through. Unsurprisingly this raised all sorts of questions and we were able to have some good conversation and debate with him.
When we decided to write a nurture course (loosely based on Emmaus but with more inquiry and more video) we invited a number of people, including Hugh, Jayne, Jay and Jamal. They also came to a follow-up course we devised, taking a quick eight-week tour through the whole Bible.
At the end of the second course, we asked if anyone would like to take things further and be confirmed these four all said that they would like to so we put together a couple more sessions, on baptism, confirmation and Eucharist, and invited Margaret to join us for these as well.
The culmination came on a February evening this year when they all knelt before the Bishop and received his blessing. This is not the end of the road, of course, but it is a significant step on the way.
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