Sunday 10 March 2024

A Traditional Mothering Sunday

And off to church, I go

Being on the steward’s rota today, I left for church early having checked if the weather, though cold, would also be affected by rain. The prognosticators and readers of the tea leaves had surmised that the times to expect rain would coincide with when I was fully sheltered at church, however, it being Manchester, you should always be prepared.

As I walked to church, I took the opportunity to conduct a video conversation with Brian and we pleasantly bantered until I was about to step through the south door main entrance to the cathedral.

It being Mothering Sunday and I have much of an affinity to the traditional than the emerging trend of Mother’s Day, it was one or the other part, I needed to fulfil. Essentially, Mothering Sunday is the Sunday you go to worship in the church wherein you were baptised, failing which you make a beeline to attend the cathedral or mother church of the diocese.

The baptisms of note

Now, I was first baptised the Anglican way with the sprinkling of water at a baptismal font just 3 weeks short of 49 years ago at St. Luke’s (Anglican) Church in Jos. Suffice it to say, that is a long way from here and quite a distant past in my memory, I was just over 8 years old and it was an activity initiated by my parents than one I understood the significance of. Apart from the certificate of baptism preserved and intact from that long ago, I recall nothing more.

12 years later, there was a river, and I was among charismatic Christians. Then I had a better understanding of what the purpose of a baptism was apart from being fully persuaded of the significance of it. I was fully immersed in water as I pinched my nose, then pulled up out of the water in a symbolic demonstration of Romans 6:4Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Whilst the new birth is instantaneous in terms of whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved Romans 10:13, the realisation of walking in the newness of life is a process of learning, failing, relearning, appreciating human frailty and the preponderance of grace, along with jettisoning the bondage to the law through moving from works to receiving and accepting the free gift of life-affirming grace. It has been harder for me than the words seem to state, the mercifulness and lovingkindness of God assures me, it is possible.

In the second instance of my baptism without contemning the purpose of the first, we had a gathering of believers without a building in the traditional sense of a church as we are in school. Unlike in the Anglican Communion or the Established Church, Mothering Sunday in terms of revisiting a church where one was baptised is impossible. It was contemporaneously attached to time, manner, and place, the rest is recalled from memory.

On duty and then discussion

Welcoming worshippers into the cathedral, I handed out the service pamphlets before taking my seat at the start of the processional hymn and then at the offertory hymn, I took up my assigned aisle to take the collection. Later, I ushered the congregants to receive the communion and my duties were completed after I helped an old lady who had some issues with tickets, she thought she had purchased, but could not find evidence of the transaction being completed.

The weekly Lenten talks started soon after the social gathering to have tea and coffee with biscuits. The gathering allows us to meet people we know and new attendees with all the general conversation that ensues.

We are using the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book 2024, titled Tarry Awhile by Dr Selina Stone which comes in book, Kindle (electronic book), and Audible (audio book) format. It is a study of black spirituality that inspires quite engaging conversation and discussion in the Lenten talks group.

I have read and listened to some challenging and insightful bits of perspective and theological discourse that I cannot adequately cover in this blog. If you can get the book, you will be mightily blessed by what you learn in the process.

The Village Church

Getting home, I did not have more than 90 minutes to spare before heading out for the bimonthly Village Church around the corner from mine that takes place on the second and fourth Sunday of the month. Even though I felt like I should get on my bed and snuggle under my duvet, this community service that attends to the spiritual needs of the LGBTQ++ cohort under the auspices of the Church of England and supported by our bishops is a wonderfully enriching experience with an intimate feel that allows me the participation in the Holy Communion, twice on Sunday.

If anything, it is better recognised by the church that has in the past persecuted and castigated minority groups that Jesus Christ died for all and the purpose of the church is to give everyone access and facility to exercise their Christianity and spirituality without condemnation or judgement, and in particular, those that had before been hurt by traditions, denominations, churches, or the modern-day equivalent of the Pharisaic class. 

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