As I write this I am reflecting on the excellent, and well received, talk that my friend Andrew gave to Filling Station. Resulting from this, I was asked if we could go to visitWalsingham.
Andrew spoke about Mary, a woman of prayer. She was a woman who wasvulnerable and, in particular, a woman who said ‘yes’ to God. I visited Walsingham about 30 years ago and listening to Andrew’s description of it, the place has certainly changed. When I visited there, I am pretty sure that there was only one Shrine.
I have done a little investigation about a pilgrimage to Walsingham, so if anyone isinterested in the idea, please have a conversation with me. It seems that the best option is to arrive on a Tuesday and leave on a Friday.
Of course we are all on a journey in our lives, and for Christians, this journey begins with a Christening. One of the very important things that the Church does, in the communities in which we serve, is to be alongside people during their significant Life Events. The Archbishop’s Council recognised the importance of this work a few years ago, by setting up three different headings for these events. Most wedding couples know about the Wedding Project which has a website called ‘yourchurchwedding’. The other life events are the ‘Taking funerals seriously’ and ‘Baptism matters’. Some of our Lay Leaders have attended workshops on ‘Baptism matters’.
Research drawn from those outside the church has shown that people expect to be contacted after they have been to church for any of these services. What is made clear is that the church is missing out on engaging with these people. How often I have heard from a regular congregation member when arriving to find that theirusual small quiet communion service is a Baptism ‘Oh, not anotherChristening!’ Sometimes this person will actually walk away and not attend the service.
Those of you who are members of your small church communities – please be delighted those who have no contact with church actually approach the Vicar to mark their significant life event. Be pleased to welcome them and include them. How often we can be disapproving because their friends may not engage with our liturgy.. they may appear to be disrespectful……-
We are all privileged to be here, in whatever small way we can, to accompany people who still seek to mark their life events in a sacred space in our churches.