A Thanksgiving service at Christ Church Fulwood
Okay, okay. This may be a bit confusing, especially as the previous post concerned itself with Thanksgiving, the American holiday that falls on the fourth Thursday of every November. This post is not a repeat of the previous subject matter; it is, rather, concerned with the church service that took place on the following Sunday.
As many of you will already be aware, it is important for me and Andrea that we not take the decision to be baptized (Christened, really, as baptism does have some specific references that are mysteriously absent at most Christenings) away from Janelle. Though Christ Church Fulwood does baptize infants, they (especially our associate vicar, Jason Clarke) are incredibly gracious people who understand and allow us to uphold our convictions. Thus the Thanksgiving service at Fulwood, in which we gave thanks for Janelle's arrival, made commitments to raise her in the knowledge and experience of the gospel of God's love, and received commitments from the church to be a part of her faith development.
In addition, we were blessed to be able to have a joint Thanksgiving service with Rich and Helen, who were doing the same for their son, Thomas. Thomas was born exactly six weeks prior to Janelle. We were glad for the opportunity to be able to share this moment with Rich and Helen. It was, admittedly, a bit strange having a congregation pledge themselves to play an active role in her upbringing when we knew we were moving a quarter-way round the world in less than two weeks. But, as a local representative of the world-wide church, it was important for us to have the church commit itself to be a part of our efforts to raise her.
Here Andrea and I are holding Janelle and waiting for Jason to take our little girl and present her to the church. Yes, I am wearing a suit coat and shirt with a pair of jeans. Yes, I do look good in them. And yes, I did take the coat off immediately after the thanksgiving and spent the rest of the service in the shirt and jeans. I was playing my guitar in the worship band this particular Sunday (in fact, it was my last time playing with the band; perhaps a post about this will find its way onto WIS . . .), and it is quite uncomfortable for me to play my guitar with a suit coat on. It's too bad, though; as I so humbly pointed out immediately above, I do look good.
Here are Greg and Julie, both of whom are regular topics of conversation on this blog (and elsewhere, if I'm honest, but don't tell them that). Back in June Andrea and I asked Greg and Julie to be Janelle's godparents, which they agreed to do. I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude to them for the commitment they've made to be a part of Janelle's life as she grows up. I'd also like to acknowledge the rest of the Crookes-Walkley homegroup, who stood with us and with Rich and Helen as we presented our children to the church and continue to play an important role in our lives. Geraldine stood next to Greg and Julie (unfortunately, she's hidden behind the music stand in the first picture, above), and Jen is on the opposite end of the line (next to Becca and Chris, who are close friends of Rich and Helen). Martyn was on holiday in Barcelona, and Mike and Becky were in Surrey. But all of them are dear to me and Andrea, and we continue to pray for them as we start this next phase of our friendship, the one marked conspicuously by 3,756 miles (or 6,045 km) of separation. (I'm indebted to Ask Jeeves for this information, which was measured from Columbus, OH to Sheffield, England.)