john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    It's never too late

    Lydford Parish and Community Magazine
    May 2011

    "I'd like to have my child baptised, but I haven't been baptised myself - what can I do?" It's not unusual for me to find myself in this sort of conversation, and the obvious answer often works for the person concerned: "Perhaps you should think about being baptised with them." People's relationship with the Christian faith ebbs and flows, often in tandem with life events. When a baby comes into your life the awe and wonder of the birth prompts the desire for some sort of celebratory response, and the awareness of the gravity of the responsibility of nurture suggests the need for the help and encouragement of others in the family and community. Baptism offers all that, and can be the start of a person's new or renewed appreciation of the role of faith in their life.

    The urge to find meaning in life is strong, certainly among our young, trying to build their identity and finding that the material presented to them by youth marketing, Hollywood and social networking is never quite enough to fulfil all their desires. But people of all ages have unanswered questions, which some will keep searching for. The Œspirituality' shelves of high street bookshops are stacked to overflowing with titles offering succour, advice, self-help suggestions. The church is often an onlooker in the spirituality marketplace but much of what is available to people draws on centuries of Christian practice - meditation and monasticism, healing prayer and iconography: all these are being rediscovered as helpful means towards understanding the inner life. ŒSpiritual direction' - a one-to-one conversation of the heart with a wise and trusted other - is growing in popularity all the time.

    When crisis hits - through an illness, and accident, the loss of a loved one - people rediscover prayer, find themselves looking for people or places to turn to for guidance and support. And in a global village where cultures and philosophies of all kinds rub increasingly together, many are unsatisfied with the way these interchanges are reported. The media tend to portray each issue (let's say the debate on intelligent design, or the wearing of the hijab in public) as an argument between two polar opposites, but hardly anyone is convinced by that. A mature understanding of life requires us to embrace layers of meaning, often complicated and possibly conflicting - and most people who want maturity accept this complexity as a good, interesting, energising thing.

    It's never too late to ask the questions; it's never too late to take new steps in life and faith. I once baptised four generations of the same family in one ceremony, a very moving occasion. I myself was only confirmed at the age of 37. I welcome and encourage conversation and exploration of these questions: hence the article in this issue in which Roy Barnett and I discuss our faith story and invite you to contribute yours, and hence the ever-open door at Lydford church for those seeking to pray, explore, learn, grow.