Surprises: Notes from my first year as a practicing Christian

  1. Christmas 2022, Christ Church, Harpenden: a riot of 200 people in a school hall.
  2. An invitation to join home group.
  3. Joining the Teas and Coffees Rota. Learning the drill, and the importance of the ministry of hospitality.

    The Tea Rota Dave Walker

    The Tea Rota © Dave Walker

  4. Contemporary Christian Music. Commercially obvious melodies, catchy drum beats, repetitive choruses and frequently dubious theology. I love pop music so this was a natural intersection. Terry Scott Taylor hits harder than most. He gets the video with his supergroup The Lost Dogs.

    …He wants our faith,
    But that’s never enough;
    He wants our hearts,
    That’s how He Lo-o-oves…

  5. My phobia of cut flowers got cured.

  6. Flowers a gift from my lockdown neighbour.

    A gift from my neighbour in Lockdown

  7. Easter
  8. Ringing for the King.
  9. Holloway Ringers and Friends

    Holloway ringers and friends ring for the Coronation, 6 May 2023. Photo: Claire Lorenc

  10. The Feast of Corpus Christi, All Saints Margaret Street. Processing the Blessed Sacrament round Oxford Circus.
  11. Spending my Saturday afternoon Googling “Why was Simon Peter fishing naked?” I was reading from scripture that weekend (John 21:1-14, NRSV). Why did he put his clothes on to swim to the shore?
  12. Surprising conversations with the Vicar Part I:

    Erika: Tell me you really need bellringers for the Ordinations. (The Ordination of Priests in Stepney and Two Cities was taking place at St Mary’s, a sell-out event. I wanted to be there. – EC.)

    Vicar: You know, actually we do need bellringers for the Ordinations.

    Ordinations 2023

    Ordinations 2023

  13. I now have the same hairdresser as Rosemary Lain-Priestly. It is a funny story.
  14. Surprising conversations with the Vicar Part II:

    Erika: Why does Paul talk about the gift of exhortion? Doesn’t that mean beating someone up and taking all of their money? (Romans 12:8, NRSV).

    Vicar, patiently: No, Erika. That’s extortion.

  15. Grace
  16. Surprising conversations with the Vicar Part III:

    Vicar: What did you make of today’s Bible Readings? (The Gospel Reading was Matthew 14:1-12, NRSV, “Bring me the head of John the Baptist”)

    Erika: Well, it makes me sad, because I like the Benedictus.

    Vicar: Oh, you like the Benedictus?

    Erika: Yeah…

  17. Helping to run the Study Group. We taught The Prayer Course 2: Unanswered Prayer. Incidentally Pete Greig runs a church in my hometown of Guildford.
  18. Ringing the Bells in St Martin in the Fields. We also visited the Ringing Room and Bell Tower in St Paul’s Cathedral.
    The Bells of St Paul’s.

    The Bells of St Paul’s.

  19. Prayer.
  20. That I no longer flinch when conversations end with “Well, that’s something to pray about.”
  21. Reading the Bible on the bus. I used to wonder, years ago, about the proportion of people reading religious texts to people reading other sorts of material, on public transport. Is the ratio higher on trains than in homes? Now I am the one reading the Bible on the bus. Gotta get my daily dose in.
  22. Communion
  23. How certain things make sense in hindsight.
  24. That one time I was asked to lead Morning Prayer. It felt funny, with the responsories the wrong way around, and having to pray the intercessions on the fly. (If I know I am to lead the prayers, I write them ahead of time.)
  25. How many calf-length dresses and skirts got added to my wardrobe. Sunday best, anyone?
  26. My mental map of London got overlaid with churches.
  27. Ten thousand Christians in a field, what’s not to like? Volunteering with the Access Team at Greenbelt, August 2023.
  28. Failing my way through eight job interviews and several more applications. The first church-based role, they gave me the feedback that I “didn’t talk about God enough” in the interview. Rookie error, I thought. Rookie error.
  29. Getting stuck in with the children’s ministry: a gentle start manning the craft table at the light party and then the same duty again at the Christmas Fair so that their parents could shop. Being invited to help teach the Nativity to local schoolchildren was a bit of a jolt, and felt like quite a step up. But if I don’t say yes, what am I doing here?
  30. Making monsters using stickers at the Light Party

    Making monsters using stickers at the Light Party

  31. My sister-in-law telling me that I seem like a down-to-Earth Christian.
  32. Getting a selfie with the Bishop: Confirmation, October 2023. How enthusiastic my fellow bellringers were about assembling a band to ring for the occasion, once they realised I was the one getting confirmed. Explaining I couldn’t join in the ringing because at the time they will be ringing, I will be being prayed for. Being prayed for as the bells rang.
  33. Selfie with the Bishop.

    Selfie with the Bishop. Confirmations at St Mary’s, October 2023.

  34. How far one can travel in a year.
    The best Christmas present?

    The best Christmas present?

    Leading the prayers, St Mary’s Islington, Christmas 2023.

    Leading the prayers, St Mary’s Islington, Christmas 2023.

With thanks to the good people of St Mary’s Islington and elsewhere, for walking with me on the journey. And to God, walking with us too.

Stepping out in faith, I guess.

Stepping out in faith, I guess. Confirmation Day at St Mary’s, October 2023.

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One Response to Surprises: Notes from my first year as a practicing Christian

  1. rpg says:

    I was today years old when I learned that someone would weigh Iron Maiden lyrics against scripture.
    You could say it gives me piece of mind.

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