The Answers to the #BibleQuiz

This past Saturday, St Luke’s celebrated it’s church anniversary with a Strawberry Tea. While we were eating a traditional British favourite of strawberries, cream, and scones, we worked on a quiz. It was created by one of the members there.

The idea is to guess which book of the Bible is represented by the picture. There are 4 on each page. I’ll post the pictures first and put the answers at the bottom in case you haven’t seen this and want to have to go:

Set 1

Set 2

Set 3

Set 4

Set 5

Set 6

Set 7

Set 8

Set 9

Set 1:
1.  Esther  2. John  3. 2 Kings 4. Romans

Set 2:
5. Joel  6. Ruth 7: Hosea 8: Philemon

Set 3:
9. Numbers  10. Timothy  11. James  12. 1 Kings

Set 4:
13. Psalms  14. 1 & 2 Chronicles  15. Samuel  16. Exodus

Set 5:
17. Mark  18. Acts  19. Hebrews  20. Revelation

Set 6:
21. Isaiah  22. Nehemiah  23. Judges  24. Nahum

Set 7:
25. Luke  26. Song of Songs  27. Genesis  28. Matthew

Set 8:
29. Amos  30. Jude  31. Jonah  32. Proverbs

Set 9:
33. 1,2,&3 John  34. Daniel  35. Job  36. Colossians

Giving Up Infant Baptism as a Sacrament but Keeping Infant Baptism

What if we give up infant baptism as a sacrament? I don’t mean Methodism should become believer’s baptism only or should stop doing them. I imagine we could carry out many infant baptisms as we do weddings. Nowadays, weddings are simply quasi-religious ceremonies we agree to perform on behalf of the state (or, as a ‘service to the community’) for those couples who want more intimacy than a signing in the registry office, but not at the expense that many hotels/other venues charge.

Churches see weddings as a ‘reaching out’ opportunity and even if the couple has no interest in faith or will not ever come back to the church, I generally have a good time meeting the couple and it’s a fun day. All I ask is for the opportunity to share my understanding of Christian marriage (as an egalitarian!) and that they don’t ask to remove the Christological language. I believe that the couple intends to keep the vows they make to each other and love each other. But in most cases no one pretends this more than a ‘secular union’.

While infant baptism serves no state function as weddings do, many seek out having their children ‘christened’ (baptismal language rarely if ever enters in). I don’t get that many requests, as often people find their way to the Anglican church before ever getting around to the Methodists. But even some of Methodists colleagues have talked about the wonderful experiences and people truly seeking to understand what’s going on in some way.

I haven’t had those experiences. Most of mine have been done because they want to get the kid in a faith school, want to appease grandmother, or simply think it’s the done thing. As far as the vows, they of course want to love their children (I have not doubt about it!) but have no real thoughts about what it means to bring up the child in the faith and only a handful of the churches could carry out their vows to assist the child (not all churches have an active Sunday school or other children’s activities). Nor as far as I have seen are parents bothered that the churches don’t have the resources to do this.

An alternative that’s been floated is to talk about having a service of thanksgiving. What parents want is for a time to come together to celebrate the family – and why wouldn’t the church want to be a part of it? But, when I say it’s not a christening and there’s no water involved, we go right back to baptism. Because I struggle with the ‘if it moves baptise it’ understanding, I have felt the need to defend baptism in some way – even if in the end I comply.

So, why don’t we simply stop worrying about where it takes place (in church) and when (in worship)? Why don’t we focus on the parents loving the child and not really worry about what happens with the faith side of it? Why don’t we adapt the service to one that simply focuses on that love and God’s love for the child? Then we could drop the language of bringing someone into the church and drop the vows that keep them trying to live up to that language. It could provide a moment of reaching out to the family with God’s love, giving the family the service they want, but not push baptismal theology to breaking point.

Do you have any thoughts?

I’m Resurrecting the Blog

I’ve decided to reopen my blog. I haven’t blogged for some time, but as it is the Easter season, resurrection seems appropriate. I haven’t a clue what I’m going to write about, but I find that I think through things better if I actually write about them.

I also gave the blog a make over and a new name. As my friend David Faulkner pointed out, I’m moved and the old title wouldn’t fit as I no longer live in Lancashire. That’s been the biggest change since I last posted. I now live in Kent, in the Medway Towns – the land of Charles Dickens. One of my churches is not far from the church graveyard that may have given Dickens the inspiration for the graveyard where Pip met Magwitch in Great Expectations.

As I’m not terribly clever with names, I have chosen ‘Man of Kentolina’. First, there is a strange tradition of determining whether you are a ‘man of Kent’ or ‘Kentish man’ by where you are born. If you were born west of the Medway River, then you are a ‘Kentish man’. I wasn’t born in Kent, but still live east of the Medway. Second, I was born in North Carolina and lived for most of my life in South Carolina. So, I have combined Kent and Carolina. There you have it.

So, I hope that I will have more to say on here in the future.

Why am I Nervous about Posting My Opinions?

When twitter lights up over an issue or my blog reader fills itself with impassioned commenters, I find myself going silent. Every once in a while I will retweet someone I am inclined to agree with, but otherwise I don’t jump into the fray. (N.B. For those unfamiliar with twitter, retweet is a twitter term used for an action similar to forwarding an email.) Today’s coverage over the horrible events that transpired in Tottenham with the riots. All the British tweeters I follow appear to have an opinion! When these discussions – whether about the theology or politics – I wonder why I am not bold enough to state my own case.
So I have been thinking about it and decided to open up a little. Maybe I will move past some of these issues. I start tonight with one.
I have self-doubts about my own opinions. I don’t want to be disagreed with and be unable to say anything back. Sometimes I find I do know what I am talking about. For example I retweeted to Facebook a joke about cookies and the economy. A more conservative friend of mine decided to give his own rendition of the joke. I commented, but didn’t really say anything. I think I asked a question or something, but was really too scared to form a coherent opinion. But my friend pushed back and I wrote a long answer with my now more left of centre opinion. My friend didn’t answer back, but I did seek out my friend Sarah McGiverin, who helped me engage with new political options when we were in seminary. She read through my answer and gave it her approval.
So one reason is my own doubts about myself. But where it hurts is even if I am wrong or there are places I need to be challenged (as in the example above) I miss out because of my doubts. At the end of the day, if I can’t give a full account, what does it matter? I’m not paid to have an opinion so why not say something?

Wandering Around Blackburn

P21

It feels strange to think that this will likely be the last time I visit Blackburn – at least for some time. I notice things that I haven’t or haven’t thought about. The stance lion clock at the Morrissons for one.

But this is the town where both my children were born. The cathedral across the street from the Morrissons is where I was ordained – nearly 4,000 miles away from my hometown of Florence, SC, where I had assumed I would have been ordained at the civic centre (no, the SC Annual Conference doesn’t use churches).

I don’t connect much with the town centre itself, but gave me lots of memories.

In Transition

As of today we have one week before we move down south to Kent. I am in a strange but lovely time provided by The Methodist Church. Whereas my US counterparts would move out of their house and into the new one on a Saturday to begin the next day at worship, British Methodists finish around the end of July and don’t begin until the first of September.

That’s not to say there’s not plenty to do, but most of it involves packing and preparing for the move. In between I’m trying to give myself time to reflect, but I’ve never really taken the opportunity to do it. I think my normal mode is to waste as much time to protect myself from thinking too much. Yet since one of the activities I have chosen to fill time is watching old reruns of Scrubs (Channel 4 quit running them because obviously people would rather watch My Name is Earl). Watch JD (the main character) carries on an inner-monologue where he constantly reflects on his life. Watching him, I can’t seem to help but be a little reflective.

So, I’m going to reopen the blog to see if I can allow myself to be a little publically reflective. It just seems that reflection is called for when I am spending a last week in a house where my wife and I have lived together longer than any other place, that has been the only home my children have known, and where I have served my first full appointment.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! A Prayer for the Day

Icon of Saint Patrick

A comment I hear a lot over here is, ‘In America, everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.’ Growing up, I associated St. Patrick’s Day with wearing green to school on 17 March. If I forgot to wear green on this day (and invariably, no one in my family ever seemed to remember), others would pinch me.

As I grew up, the day became associated with such saintly rituals as getting blind drunk. I can only assume this was behind what a family friend’s daughter meant when she proclaimed on Facebook that her favourite day of the year is St. Patrick’s Day. I attended the same University where she is now and the only thing I remember happening was the pub crawl in Columbia’s Five Points. Granted, a fun festival with green beer, but best day of the year?

Anyway, since coming over here, I have learned that there are still some great traditions behind St. Patrick and he even left a few of his prayers behind. One of my favourites is a part of what is known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate. So, if anyone has a chance today between other festivities, I hope you will take a moment to pray this prayer:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, and in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Republican Presidents Playing Poker

A Facebook friend posted this on his profile in honour of Presidents’ Day (the holiday in the United States that celebrates George Washington’s birthday). It’s all the Republican presidents playing poker. I’m a little disturbed, but I think Paul Martin and the folk at connexions will love it. I have no idea how to tag or categorise this post.

Republican Presidents Playing Poker

Israel Trip Day Four: Coming to the Holy City!

Sorry for the lack of post last night. I couldn’t get the internet to work out. So, here is the report from yesterday. I am off to the Mount of Olives in just a few minutes!

Me and April stand in front of the Holy City of Jerusalem

Me and April stand in front of the Holy City of Jerusalem

After packing this morning we said goodbye to the Golden Tulip Hotel in Tiberias and to the Sea of Galilee. We made our way up to Mount Tabor, one of the two traditional sites of Jesus’ transfiguration. All I can say is that if he wasn’t transfigured here he should have been. The modern monastery sits among the ruins of previous monasteries dating back to the 4th century. We gathered outside for the reading of the story, but before he began a reader told a beautiful story about his father (which is his story, so I won’t publish it). It set the mood for our time there. We sang to hear the beautiful acoustics and saw through the floor the rock that Jesus is believed to have been transfigured.

The next two main stops were archaeological. The first, Megiddo, was much more impressive as the excavator have found the gates made by the Israelite Kings Solomon and Ahab. For some reason, I haven’t given much thought to Old Testament sites as I have the new. Whilst this was not a place of worship, knowing that we were walking where King Solomon had over 3000 year ago made it hit home the rich tradition of this country. The second site was the Roman city of Beth Sean. We did not spend much time here, but they had uncovered a beautiful amphitheatre.

Then we made our way down south, making it through the Palestinian controlled area of the West Bank. Nothing unusual happened, so we made it through. Driving south took us toward the desert, and the actual site of Jesus’ baptism (as opposed to the Jordan River baptism site we went to yesterday). This was an actual desert. And it was HOT! Terribly hot and dry. How he managed 40 days… it’s amazing to even think about. I barely made it the half-hour I stood outside.

We did make a stop at an oasis, where April got to ride a camel. The guy running the camel place offered me 35 camels for April. Since April is priceless, I didn’t take him up on it. And we got to see our guide give the same camel a drink of coke. That was funny watching that camel down a coke on his own. After he finished, he would just spit the bottle out, without a care about recycling.

When we left the ‘oasis’, we were finally heading toward Jerusalem. I had no idea that it would affect me as I saw that golden dome for the first time. I knew I was really here, and it was just breathtaking, knowing I was in the same city that had seen so much, not least the death and resurrection of Jesus.

So, good night from Jerusalem. Tomorrow we got to the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane. Then on to Bethlehem.

Israel Pilgrimage Day Two: To Hell and Back – Bethsaida, Caesarea Philippi, and Golan

April and I at St. Peter's House in Bethsaida

April and I at St. Peter's House in Bethsaida

Today was less pilgrimage and more archaeological, with some politics thrown in. In the course of the day, we travelled around the entire Sea of Galilee, with some breathtaking views. We began the day by visiting Bethsaida, home of Peter, Andrew, James, and John. Excavations on the site have happened only recently, and just open to the pubic. The city itself used to be on the Sea of Galilee, but an earthquake caused a landslide and now the site is some distance away from the sea. The city was abandoned around the time of the Jewish Revolt and the Roman destruction of the temple (70 A). So, that means that what the diggers uncovered went back to the time just after Jesus. Likely, we walked on the very same street as he did. They have also uncovered a fisher’s house, and since we know that St. Peter came from there, this likely could have been his house. That’s an amazing thought. Of course, we don’t know for sure that was where he lived because there is nothing there with his name on it. Also, he wasn’t there when we called, so we couldn’t ask him.

Hermon Springs - the Source of the Jordan Rivers

Hermon Springs - the Source of the Jordan Rivers

Next, it was on to Caesarea Philippi, a city made by the son of Herod the Great. There is a large cave in the side of the wall which sat behind a temple to the god Pan (the half-man, half-goat). There victims would be thrown in, and if you never saw them again the gods

April and I at the Gates of Hell

April and I at the Gates of Hell

answered you prayer. If you saw blood rise, well then you got another victim. It also had another name due to the belief that when the cave flooded, the demons would come race out of hell, leading this place to be called ‘the gates of hell’. Before our guide told us all of this, we stood in front and listened to Matthew’s version of Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ. So, in the vicinity of Caesarea Philippi with it’s gates of hell, Jesus told Peter that he would build his church upon the rock – which the ‘gates of hell’ could never prevail. Jesus had to have had this temple in mind when he said this.

Also at Caesarea Philippi, we found the source of the Jordan River at the Hermon River Springs. This was beautifully landscaped with the channels created to direct the water wherever it was needed. Just a beautiful area.

Israeli Bunker at Golan Heights

Israeli Bunker at Golan Heights

The rest of the day took a decidedly political slant, as one might expect with a Israeli native guide and a mostly pro-Israel evangelical tour group. We visited the Golan Heights, which was in Syria possession until the 1967 war. We heard a very Israeli take on the situation. My dad jokingly asked a fellow tour member, ‘Do you think you’re up-to-date on the politics?’ She responded, ‘Hate Syria. That was the gist of it.’ That pretty much did summarize it (yesterday, we were show the wall that guards the West Bank, which was described by our tour guide as ‘the wall that separates the sheep from the goats’.) Oh, and the United Nations is only unified when it’s against Israel. Many agreed with our guide when she said the United Nations is useless (which, unless I am mistaken, the United States made sure of, so I don’t know why we are complaining). Anyway, my dad said this is it for the tour, so thankfully, that part is over. (FYI: our tour guide is extremely knowledgeable archaeologist and has given some great information, but I have heard the ‘Israel can do no wrong’ line from so many people that I get a little tired of it.)

Tomorrow, we take a biblical turn and will be visiting the Sermon on the Mount location, the feeding of the 5000 location, and the Jordan River.