I led a baptism service yesterday and I’ll lead another one next week. I think it is around 5 years since I’ve led one: I no longer lead churches and I’ve only been able to lead these two as the ministers of the 2 churches have allowed me to.
Someone once told me that a measure of a ‘good’ minister is that when they leave, they are not missed; if they’ve done their work well, others have been allowed to grow & they are not needed. However, I conducted both couples’ weddings and I guess that they felt some connection with me so they asked. I feel more than slightly uncomfortable with praise, yet a small part of me feels gratified and humbled. It is wise though to keep John Wesley’s 18th century maxim in mind : ‘If thou art constrained to bless the instrument; give God the glory’.
It’s a peculiar feeling going ‘back’ to something I left. The first feeling is one of strangeness: I’m slightly rusty at something that I once got into a routine of doing. Then there is a tinge of a feeling of being a bit of a ‘fraud’: I’ve had a paradoxical relationship with my parent denomination since I left pastoral charge- I sit on no meetings apart from the handful I’m supposed to attend so I’m welcoming the children into something I have mixed feelings about. I guess there is also a bit of nostalgia: this used to be me and some small part will always miss that.
Most people these days who want to get their children ‘done’ seem to do it for a mix of reasons, but under them is often a paradoxical relationship with faith and church. They remember ‘home’: a place where they might have gone as children but have never found as adults. They are often reaching out for something that they cannot always articulate. Often the small seed of ‘faith’ remains but it is dormant. Perhaps someone who has faith and is conflicted about the church may sometimes be the best person to connect with. That seemed to be the case yesterday and I hope it is this Sunday.
Maybe I wasn’t so bad as a minister after all…