26 October 2009

Sacrament

Today is Labour Monday - no, that is not a Sacrament - not even a sacramental - I only mention it to explain how it is I am able to write a bit on a Monday.

It is, indeed, a bit of a marvel that I am able to write anything, three-day week-end or not. This has been an extremely busy week-end. Susan and I spent all of Saturday and much of today shifting furniture between the house and the 'sleep-out' room that is my bedroom-cum-office.

And Sunday was the day of ... well, Sunday was the reason for the title.

About a week ago Eddie told Susan and me that he intended to be baptised. This was news of mixed import to us, as Eddie had been baptised when he was an infant. So I understood that what he intended was to go through a form of adult baptism. By the end of the week, Eveline had chosen to follow him in this step. Eddie wanted Susan and me to be present.

It has been a bit of a stormy week for us all, debating, considering, and, finally, deciding that we would go to the event. Although no re-baptism is possible for a person who has once been validly baptised, I understood that this was Eddie's way of affirming his determination to follow Christ. That is a determination that I most emphatically want to support. I suppose one can view this as a renewal of baptismal vows.

It had long been the plan for Sue and me to spend yesterday with Eddie and Eveline - our monthly lunch with them - and the baptism was to be at his church's evening service, at 5PM.

Calling it a 'church service' is, perhaps, a bit misleading. It was indistinguishable from a Christian rock concert. I must confess that the volume of the band was such that I genuinely think a steady exposure would be damaging to one's hearing. Thankfully, the noise ... er, music :-) ... didn't last too long.

There was a sermon (on faith) - I have heard worse from Catholic priests. It was a bit of a trip back in time for us - the standard evangelical sermon urging (rightly!) faith in God, followed by a call for decision.

The baptism itself - looked like about twenty persons were baptised - was fully-clothed, full immersion - full-on! I couldn't hear anything of the words used in the baptism, so I don't know whether any there who had not been baptised before were in fact baptised now or not - that is, I don't know if it was baptism "in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." I hope for their sake it was, and, indeed, I prayed then, and since, for all those who were baptised.

This morning Sue and I went to Mass, as we usually do. It was, in style, quite a contrast! Well, of course, it was a week-day Mass, not a full Sunday Mass, and there were only about 20 people there. There was no music, but, had there been, it would not have threatened anyone's hearing. And Father's 5-minute homily did not end with a call to persons who wanted to determine to follow the Lord to raise their hands!

All that is true, but the deep difference was stark, and real. Eddie will read this post, and I do not wish to be writing a sermon to him, nor to give the impression that I am not very glad we decided to go to his re-baptism ceremony. I am deeply glad that we went, and pray for him and Eveline and their children. Nonetheless, last night during the baptisms, I had a sudden thought: what is happening here is John's baptism. These people are undergoing a baptism of repentance - and well they, and each of us, should. If the formula was Trinitarian, even although the minister performing the baptisms made clear, in his speech, that he did not believe in baptismal regeneration, then this was valid baptism for the unbaptised. Nevertheless ... what I thought of was John's baptism.

At the end, after the sermon, Sue and I left. There had been some good music - that of it that could actually be heard, of course! - and wonderful zeal, and a sermon that I could well take to heart on believing God and trusting Him. Still - something was missing.

Not something, actually; Someone. This morning God condescended to give Himself to me Bodily, in His full Substance. I cannot forget that. I cannot do without that. I can readily contrast some points of Protestant worship with Catholic to the credit of the Protestant. There is much that they do well that we do not (though I would either have to find a congregation with less powerful amplifiers, or else wear earplugs :-)). They can give me Jesus spiritually. They can give me His Words. They can tell me of His love.

I am thankful for what the Reformed Church gave me. I am thankful for what the Baptist Church gave me before that. I am thankful to Eddie and Eveline for inviting me. But there is something that only the Catholic Church can give me. The Catholic Church gives me Jesus. I cannot do without that. It is my prayer for Eddie and Eveline, and for all men and women, that they come to know Him Whom to receive is life eternal.

10 comments:

Edgy said...

your right, I did read it :)

thanks so much for coming, it was really good to have you there.

also thanks for (I'm sure delibrately) not picking apart what may have been gramatical or language error's on the part of pastor. He's not a scholar but a preacher. I look forward to your new theological blog :)

love you dad
Eddie

John Thayer Jensen said...

So you are 'outing' your father, eh?

I look forward to your new theological blog :)

I was sort of hoping everyone might forget this! The idea of a theological blog is Marko's idea, actually - and I thought he was my friend!

Marko said...

So!!! Is this like a "church offff". Well my one is the best so shame!!!(I know...that was not very mature of me!!! I DON'T CARE...SUCK IT UP!!!)

I agree with JJ on some things(such as repetition) but not all.

In a lot of bigger churches (pentecostal one's in particular) it starts off with "Praise and Worship" (which usully ends up being just the "Praise", as the music is too loud for you to understand the words....you just have a general sense that people are praising God for "something").

It is then followed by the sermon on "faith", after which there is an altar call.

Most of these are focused on the new comers (as there is always someone new that did not hear the "Good News") and I am assuming that the deeper things of God are left for the smaller "home groups", where people can mature.
(After all you don't want the new comers to think that us Christians are not of the world....somehow different and weird!!!!...if you are wondering what I am on about...it's called sarcasm.)

BUT...I don't agree that it is like that in every "Non-catholic" church. I have been in a few churches (both catholic and other denominational) where I did not feel God's presence.

I also know that in the church that I go to, you can definitely feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, not always, but most times. It comes fast after praise... we worship and invite the holy spirit to come.
It is a very quiet and gentle time, where people have their hands streched out to God, and they have tears rolling down their face....a lot of it is just emotions that come with the song choice, but most of it is Holy Gost. When he comes, when he talks to you, and you feel convicted, and loved at the same time....you just know it is Him!!!

I think he visits the body of christ no matter where they gather, when they gather in his name.

Marko said...

And yes JJ....you are starting that blog whether you like it or not!!!! It's not for you, but for the others that can learn so much from you. If you don't do it know you never will. I will make sure your fingers are intact...as long as you comply!!!! Your FRIEND, Marko

John Thayer Jensen said...

Please, someone, make it stop!!!!

Edgy said...

So Marko, are you saying your church is better then mine?

This is definately going to be a church off... and I've already won cause mine is bigger and hits harder get it? :)

you've made a comment about 'a lot of bigger churchs' etc etc. Are you referring to LIFE by any chance? Did you think it was too loud? did you think the sermon was shallow or aimed only at ne comers?
Forget the church off, I'm interested in what you think...
And since that is probably a VERY rare thing feel free to reply at length :)

LIFE happens to be doing a month of sermons on faith at the moment, so ALL of the services will have a talk about faith...

As far as 'feeling' the presence of the Spirit, I agree often you do thought not always. however I choose to believe that wherever two or three gather in His name, He is there also.

How do you like my oh so reverent use of Capital Letters up there huh? That surely proves I'm sincere? :)

John Thayer Jensen said...

You are both right about the Holy Spirit. However, I am talking about something else. The concept of Sacrament is closely related to the Incarnation. And that is related to the question of what the Church actually is.

All of which brings up that theoblogical business :-)

Marko said...

We are the church!!!!! The gathering of the believers!!!!

To answer Eddie:
What I meant is that I can see how JJ could walk into a church like yours, for the firt time and last, and conclude (based on that 1 experience) that this is not his cup of tea....perhaps if he went for the morning service when a few more oldies and regulars came, he would have a different experience.
With more worship, less praise, with more teaching less preaching and would have received the communion and would have met with Jesus(if I can say it like that hehe).

If you are going to go to an evening\youth service, that is the sort of thing you would expect....i.e. very loud, message about faith and a saviour, altar call...etc. Heard it and seen it millions of times before. But as you said...it could just so happen that you are going through a month of messages about faith.

For instance, in my church we get roughly 40-50 people every sunday(small church).
All of them have been there before (ocasionally we get a random walking in from the street), and most messages are meant to grow the individuals, teach us about how to have a better relationship with Jesus, discuss different parts of the bible. (it is more teaching rather than preaching as most people are regulars and we are constantly building on what was discussed in the previous weeks) We hold comunion once every couple of weeks etc.
If we had an evening service (and more people, more newcomers) where the young people would bring their friends, the service would be very oriented towards new comers. This is why I think smaller churches are more personal, people get involved more, they grow more.
They form relationships with other believers not just inside of the church buiding but outside as well.


So JJ...what's a church according to your definition.......see this is exactly why we need a religious blog!!!!!

John Thayer Jensen said...

Marko said:

So JJ...what's a church according to your definition.......see this is exactly why we need a religious blog!!!!!

That is indeed a fundamental question, indeed. And the very first way to look at it is to ask whether it is useful to talk about 'a' church. If the church is the Body of Christ - and the Bride of Christ - can there really be churches?

We will go on with this but I am going to have to give some thought to the format of a theo-blog.

Adele said...

if I could type a "zzzzzorbert" right now, I would.....I suppose I just did