Of all the names used to describe followers of Jesus Christ, the one that has really stuck is ‘Christian’. To follow Jesus means to be like Jesus. How else will people see Jesus except in and through us?In Jesus, God’s rule of justice and peace is come among us. So to follow in his way means living under God’s rule and praying constantly – which of course also means working constantly – for God’s kingdom to come on earth. On Sunday we gather together as a Church to worship God and to enjoy community together. But on Monday morning we are still the Church. Now we are dispersed to our homes, our neighbourhoods, our places of work and leisure. It is here that we are called to be the presence of Jesus, serving his world and witnessing to his love today.
Baptism marks the beginning of a journey with God. It is the means by which God adopts us as his children, and brings us with Christ to share in his life. When Jesus was baptised in the river Jordan, God acclaimed him as ‘my son, the beloved’. In our baptism, God claims us as his beloved sons and daughters. So we are made members of God’s family, with Christians throughout the world and all those who have gone before us.
The Church of England has always been unapologetic about baptising babies and children. This is because baptism is primarily about what God does for us: before we can say anything, or believe the right things, or act in a particular way, God already loves us and reaches out to bring us to share in his love. The faith that follows, and in which parents and godparents and the wider Church promise to help the person being baptised grow up, is always a response to the fact that God first loves us, and is not a precondition for earning that love.
The Bible often uses the metaphor of marriage to talk about the relationship between God and his people. In fact, one of the most frequently used images for heaven is that of a marriage feast, when God’s people will be brought to perfect union with him. The Church of England marriage service describes marriage as ‘a gift of God in creation’, and talks about three purposes for marriage:
The Church calls marriage a sacrament because it has long recognised that in the unconditional commitment and faithfulness of the partners in marriage to each other, something of the love and faithfulness of God is made visible. So marriage is both a joyous and a serious undertaking. If you’re wondering if you can get married at St Augustine's, please get in touch with us.
Belief in God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit is at the heart of our faith. Christians believe that Jesus is God’s Son. Jesus reveals to us that God is our Father, and that God is available to us through the Holy Spirit.
You won’t ever be asked if you completely understand all this. But you are asked whether you believe and trust. This is called faith. It is a different sort of knowledge. It is the knowledge of being known and loved, and of loving in return.
The Christian faith is not a human invention. There are signs of God’s existence and handiwork in creation for anyone to read (Acts 14.15–17). But we believe in the way we do because God has come to seek us out and has made himself known to us.
A funeral is used to mark the end of a person's life here on earth. Family and friends come together to express grief, give thanks for the life lived and commend the person into God's keeping. These can be a small, quiet ceremony or a large occasion in a packed church. Everyone is entitled to either a burial or cremation service (funeral) or to have their ashes buried in their local parish churchyard by their local parish priest regardless of whether they attended church or not.
So the Church is here to serve you in your time of sadness. Each person is unique – in personality and in life experience. A Church of England funeral allows you to give thanks for the unique person you knew and loved in a way that gives comfort and hope