Sunday I went to St Luke's Church (Anglican I think) and saw what they were doing for Brighton's homeless community. They lay on food every third Sunday of the month. St Luke's were low on Bible-thumping and high on music volume. While the liturgy of some Catholic Churches would suggest otherwise, hopefully we would never consider laying on a gig inside a Church even if it were for such a noble cause as performing for the homeless. That's what pubs and community centres are for, after all.
I was unable to film 'Dirty Old Town', which I personally liked, but managed to interrupt my game of Scrabble in order to film this band playing 'Scarborough Fair'. I liked them. The atmosphere of the place was warm, friendly and while you had the odd person going around offering to pray for homeless people with the 'laying on of hands' it didn't appear to me to be too 'full on'.
One of the organisers was interested in my suggestion of seeing if we could form a band with the homeless because I know that some have musical talent. He said he'd been giving it some thought already for quite some time and that the church could be used for practise on Sundays. The drum kit, amps, mics are already there, so if people were interested in it, the idea could take off, could kick off or could go, which is most likely, down in flames.
As the week for Christian Unity in the One True Church gathers apace I attended a Bible-study group at Montpelier Baptist Church, where, alas, I was unable to hold my tongue in conversation with Pastor Stephen Nowak. I shall not go into too much detail, but, suffice to say, the pastor ended up giving me his card and telling me that it is "probably best" if I don't attend groups on a Wednesday because he and I only argue and cause a scene. He kept referring to 'the Church' throughout the evening, so I asked him whether I am in the Church. He said there were conditions;
(1) That I "believe that Jesus Christ is the Incarnate God, Saviour of the World, that He died and rose again", to which I replied, "Yes, I believe that. So, Catholics are in the Church", I said.
"Ah yes, (2) but you must be born again..." said Steve.
"...of water and the spirit - Baptised, you mean," I said.
"No, but you must be born again...you don't understand..." he said.
You know the story...
I lost my temper a little and told him that he can give it out when it comes to preaching but he can't take it and asked him why he doesn't take the words of Our Lord literally and seriously when He says, "This is My Body...This is My Blood," since it is clear as day what He meant. The reply? "Jesus spoke in parables. That is a parable." He said he believed in "liberty of conscience" and that the Catholic Church shouldn't dictate to people how to live their lives. This is not in any particular order, you understand. I asked him what "liberty of conscience" the homeless had when they had to do Bible study before they were able to eat. My project of ecumenical work reaching out to other 'ecclesiastical communities' is, sadly, unravelling. Fair enough, really...it is his 'turf' and all.
The Bible reading was 1 Corinthians 15, on the Resurrection and how our faith would be in vain were it not for the Lord's rising from the dead. See, there is so much on which we Christians can agree! I don't know, however, how he is going to convince the homeless of something so contrary to reason as the Resurrection when he thinks that the idea that Our Lord actually meant what He said about His Body and Blood, rather than it being an example of Our Blessed Lord "speaking in parables" is, in his words, "ridiculous." Still, he knows best. I mean, after all, he's "studied theology and knows the Greek". We ended with a mutual "God bless", the basic Christian courtesy we all wish Protestants had extended to Catholics instead of them being beheaded, disembowled or hung, drawn and quartered for not renouncing the Faith and for not denying Christ and His Church (Stephen was under the impression only Catholics killed other Christians).
If you want to send him some CTS pamphlets, you can do so by sending them to Pastor Stephen Novak, Montpelier Place Baptist Church, Montpelier Place, Brighton, BN1 3BF or you can email him papal encyclicals at firstname.lastname@example.org. I think I am joking.
Oh, and "all Christians are Saints", apart from St Paul because Saints are things the Catholic Church "made up". The Saints are just "believers in Christ". Uh-huh...Hang on...that David Koresh guy...wasn't he a "born again" Christian? So he was a Saint, after all that! Gosh...it's always the quiet ones isn't it!