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Service Review: 6th March

Palm Sunday: Sunday 20th March 2016 was a special service for a number of reasons.

It was Palm Sunday, the day one week before Easter when Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on a donkey. He was proclaimed as the Prince of Peace, and the excited crowds laid down palm leaves to mark his path.

Secondly, it was a very special day for Reuben Alexander Middleton as the Church gave witness to his baptism.

And thirdly, it was the first day of spring, the Vernal Equinox, when the daylight hours are longer than the hours of darkness. The weather lived up to its billing as the sun shone and showed off our beautiful stained glass window in all its glory.

And so with a packed congregation of about 150, the scene was set for an uplifting and inspiring service, led by the Revd. Hilary Howarth.

Following the welcome and call to worship the Praise band led us into to the opening hymn, “Light of the world”. An excellent choice of hymn competently played and sang with heart by the congregation.

Anne Haslam then led us in prayer and the Lord’s Prayer. This was followed by the baptism of Reuben. And what a pleasant baptism it was too, with proud mum, Emma and the four God parents (Hannah, Alex, John and Mia) all making positive contribution.

The hymn, “There’s a king riding on a donkey” was up next, a particularly rousing version to the tune of “Sing Hosanna”.

The Lenten Cross Liturgy followed - from Tragedy to Triumph - as versus 1 and 5 were sung from hymn 287; interspersed by a reading by Kathy Denton (“The Message”, Matthew, Chapter 21: versus 1-3 and 6-11); a poem entitled “Jesus”, read by June Farrington; and the placing of symbols on the cross.

The first of a two part sermon came next as Revd. Hilary talked about “the Donkey’s Story”. This was the story of two Jewish children who were approached by Jesus. He asked them if he could borrow their donkey as a “King” was coming to town. The children duly obliged and with great excitement the children followed Jesus and the crowds of cheering people into Jerusalem.

Aptly, the hymn 264 “Make way, make way”, led by the Praise Band was then sung, followed by the second part of the sermon – “What gets you excited?”. The question was put to the congregation. Several answers came back, including being hugged, cheering on your football team, attending a concert, singing in the bath and cheering a celebrity. But when the Revd Hilary asked, “If Jesus excites you, would you tell someone?” there was a mixed response. She made reference to Luke’s Gospel and how the religious leaders of Jerusalem were unhappy about all the attention Jesus was attracting. Some of the Pharisees in the crowd asked Jesus to tell his excited disciples to be quiet. But Jesus retorted, “The stones will cry out if my disciples were to remain quiet”. Stones and pebbles were then distributed among the congregation and we were encouraged to write a message on our stone about what excites us about Jesus.

The Revd Hilary showed us her three stones and on each was written, Peace, Love and Footprints that walk with you.

The hymn 265 “Ride on, ride on in majesty” came next and this was followed by Prayers of Intercession, spoken by Annie Aspinall.

The closing hymn was “All hail the power of Jesu’s name” (no. 342).

This was quite a fitting finale to what was a thought provoking, yet uplifting Palm Sunday service. And as the congregation slowly dispersed, the sun was still shining down on us all.

What a fitting end to the morning and to the start of the spring season!

Kindly provided by Stephen Maslivec, Church Steward.

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