8th October 2011

Back in Ryssby after time with friends in Jönköping I catch up with Elisabeth at lunchtime for what has already been a full day for her. She has done some urgent hospital visiting and is now preparing for a baptism at the church in Agunnaryd.

Agunnaryd’s claim to fame is that it is home to the industrialist Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA (the A stands for Agunnaryd). A small village, it has one school, a kindergarten, a supermarket and four football teams, as well as its own newspaper/newsletter mailed to inhabitants once a month.

Inside the church, which is light and richly decorated with art and fixtures from across different points in history, a small group is gathering. It’s a baptism of the grandchild of a churchyard worker, so well know to the church family. There’s a warm friendly feel to this celebration. The service begins as the child is carried in procession by godparents, behind the cross. The baby is relaxed and sleepy for most of the service, then after Elisabeth baptises her, she holds up the child for all to see. There is a wonderful look of surprise (shock?!) on the little girl’s face.

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After the service, Elisabeth has a funeral visit to make, so I wait for her in the parish office. I don’t think she has eaten lunch yet, but she is more concerned that I haven’t had any food for a while. The afternoon and evening are free-ish from work, so we have chance to talk more about baptism policy  (taking care with preparation, and remembering that God has already been there with the families), and the catechumenate. (Elisabeth is the ‘mother’ of the catechumenate in Sweden and takes a national role in encouraging its use. It’s great to hear her passion as she talks about the way the catechumenate process can nurture leaders and explorers within the church community.) Back at her home, we have some soup with the handyman from Romania who is doing some work in the garden. It appears that this is just one of people that Elisabeth supports by providing them with opportunity for work. He is good at talking and very entertaining – and I enjoy listening to the conversation and laughter even though I don’t understand the words. Later Elisabeth tells me that amongst other things he was telling her about his concern for the well being of his neighbour – who she also knows and supports as she can. A neighbour pops in for a chat, Elisabeth’s husband isn’t very well, and one of Elisabeth’s sons calls her – they have moved house today!

Elisabeth tells me a little more about the moose hunting which begins on Monday (always the second Monday of October). She takes an active part in this along with her farming neighbours. They will gather a group of about 25 people and will have a ‘quota’ of 6 moose to kill (3 adults and 3 calves). This is a regular cull which is necessary because of the damage the animals do to farmland and because they cause serious accidents on the roads.

In the afternoon I go for a walk while Elisabeth does some sermon preparation.

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We eat together in the evening and talk more about church life, of similarities and differences. Elisabeth is good at asking keen questions and I’m hesitant in my responses as I try to present a fair picture of the church in England! She’s wondering about the usefulness of visiting Oxford and seeing, with her colleagues, something of the ways of being church in this part of England. We have another errand to do and walk to a neighbour for some signing of papers. In quite a small house, two sons live with their invalid, elderly mother. “They are lovely people, so kind to us” is how Elisabeth describes these neighbours. Along the way we talk about family, sharing some joys and worries of parenthood. More sermon work for Elisabeth, then bed.

In the early hours of the morning, I hear the tapping of computer keys as the work continues..

 

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