The Rev’d Humphrey Blytherington is our guest blogger. Rev’d Blytherington is Vicar of St Hilda’s, Little Snoring with All Saints, Great Snoring. He is a graduate of Plymouth University where he earned a degree in ornamental horticulture. He completed his studies for the ministry at Latimer Hall, Durham. He is married to Daphne and enjoys home brewing, model railroading and is an avid member of the Great Snoring Morris Dancers.
I was at the clergy fellowship meeting last week (we can’t call it the clergy ‘fraternal’ anymore since the lady vicars objected) when the Rural Dean brought up this matter of combined weddings and baptisms. Seems one of our bishops has come up with the splendid idea of tacking baptisms onto the wedding service.
I must say, it’s not something I’d thought of doing, but when you stop and think it makes jolly good sense. Not a few of the young folk who come along for weddings nowadays are already sharing the same address, and naturally before they know it, they’ve been blessed with a little bundle of joy. I once asked a couple who came for a wedding why they waited until they had four children before they decided to get married.
The poor girl took a drag on her cigarette, blew the smoke in my face and said, “That’s none of your business vicar.” Her boyfriend was a bit more helpful, and explained, “You see vicar, Tracy’s a bit sensitive about it ‘cuz only the latest little ‘un is mine.”
“Oh, I see, and did she adopt the other three? How splendid!” I said, “to help those less fortunate than oneself.”
When she stopped laughing the girl said, “What effing planet are you living on vicar? Don’t you know I got a council house when I was fifteen ’cause I was in the family way? That one was Kevin’s I think. He was sixteen, but he didn’t stick around long, then I got more family allowance when the other two come along. I think they was both from Gavin, but I ain’t sure because I was drunk a lot of the time, but I’ve given up drinking so much now. I kept getting terrible hangovers.”
That was an eye opener for me I can tell you! Well, never mind, young people always do tend to pop a few surprises on one! Anyway, this bishop has come up with a form of service where we can now do the wedding and then baptize the children too. What a grand idea, and how economical in these hard pressed times to combine the wedding reception and christening party. I’m afraid Mrs. Vicar is not too impressed. She says all it does is condone sin and tell everyone that its alright to live together and copulate like monkeys with anyone and everyone. She’s a bit behind the times is our Mrs Vicar, but it does not good to argue with her, so I just smile and say, “There you are! It takes all kinds to make a world.”
Lavinia, the curate over at St Etheldreda’s spoke up at the clergy fellowship meeting saying she thought combined weddings and christenings were a fine idea, and she had already done a couple. She explained that some friends her housemate Georgie called Bruce and Larry hired a woman to have one of their babies through some sort of new fangled technology thingie called artificial insemination, and they wanted a combined wedding and baptism. Lavinia was a bit cross that the two fellows had to have a ‘blessing’ and not a proper wedding but she said she made it as much like a wedding as possible and it was beautiful to see Larry wearing such a nice white jumpsuit and Bruce looking so splendid in his black tuxedo.
I must admit, I find it all rather mind boggling. I don’t know what old Canon Farnsworth at the theological college would have made of it, but Lavinia says it’s all a matter of equal rights. When I pointed out that the girl Tracy had children by several different fellows she said, “Women have the right to reproductive freedom.” I’d never seen it quite like that before, but I can see she has a point, and who am I to judge? After all, Our Lord did say, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
The bottom line is Our Lord would not want us to be unkind to anyone, I mean to say, that’s the gospel in a nutshell isn’t it? Doesn’t it say in the good book, “If you can’t be with the one you love brother, love the one you’re with?” If combined weddings and baptisms help one or two people to have a nice celebration of their love together I can’t see the harm in it.
The only problem I have is that I already get rather muddled with all these new liturgies knowing what prayer to say and what candle to light. I can see that it is all going to be rather complicated.