A Lenten Baptism

Baptisms are such happy occasions, aren't they - a new life and a new journey to celebrate!

The baptism of Mia Ruby Rose Worsley by our Minister, Revd Hilary Howarth, at a packed All-Age Triangle Worship on Sunday (21st Feb) was no exception. Boxes of crayons and "things to do" were on hand for young members of the congregation with a short attention span but, in the event, they weren't needed.

The Praise Band kicked off with 'Meekness and Majesty' (Hymn 362) and the service, with its enchanting star, fairly rattled along. Opening prayers, immaculately read by little Eddie Scowcroft and big Brian Smith (WL), were followed by that great description of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, told by Ben Latham.

Then it was the Mia's turn. She was more interested in her personal copy of the Triangle Notice sheet and, after an anxious encounter with the baptism water and her 'meet your new family' trip down the Nave with Hilary, was content to view proceedings from a safe and lofty position in Daddy's arms. The solemn promises made for her by her parents, Matthew and Aimee - and by us all - were followed by presents and the Baptism candle, before we sang the Worsley family choice, 'Lord of the Dance' (Hymn 247).

Then to the business of Lent and Week 2 of 'The Lenten cross - Tragedy to Triumph', presented by Susy Martin and Norman Lowe. The crown of thorns and purple robe were joined by a sign designed by Steph Shipley, our Artist in Residence, hung on the cross beam and bearing the stark words, 'Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews'. This simple ceremony is sandwiched between verses from 'When I survey the wondrous Cross' (Hymn 483).

Never afraid of a good link, Hilary then introduced a montage of familiar signs from maps and highways of Britain. Confessing to her scandalised audience to having once been on a Driver Awareness Course for clocking 34mph in a built-up area, she challenged us to admit a similar fall from grace. We discovered to our surprise that a goodly proportion of our congregation also tends to put its foot down, including this correspondent, and suffered a similar fate! Familiar signs followed - Macdonald's, Yellow Pages, Amnesty International - as well as signs that made us think and signs that make us laugh and, finally, the sign of the Fish, still often seen on the tail ends of cars, or worn as a lapel badge - the universal sign that proclaims the Christian faith. The hymn, 'There's a Wideness in God's Mercy' (No 416) followed, before Hilary set the cruel sentence for wrongdoing in the Roman Empire in its historical context. Stripped, whipped and forced to carry a heavy wooden cross-beam to the place of execution through massed crowds, it was the ultimate in humiliation, pain and shame. "But what do we believe? Hilary challenged, "Where do ¬we stand around that cross on Good Friday?" "Jesus", she said, "could have walked away, or defended himself. But he remained silent, so that God could gather us into His kingdom. The cross of Jesus is a sign for us, here in Bolton, in the 21st century. It's sign that can change our lives - forever!"

The Praise Band led us into 'There is a Redeemer' (Hymn 338), Sheila Nelson presented the Prayers of Intercession and we tumbled out into the winter sunshine with 'Guide me O Thou Great Jehovah' (465) ringing in our ears. Worth going to church for, alright!

Kindly provided by Astley Jones.

Gallery :: Service Review 21st February 2016

Service Photos: 21st February 2016

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