Lent is the time of year when Christians prepare for Easter and for the resurrection of Jesus. Today’s service marked the 4th Sunday in Lent and it was led by the Revd Keith Jump.
The theme of the service was the comfort that God brings to us all, and this coincided nicely with the day being Mothering Sunday and the celebration of motherhood.
The service began with the lent Liturgy, led for us by Ben Latham and two junior church members.
The Liturgy was from Mark, Chapter 15, versus 16-18 and it reminded us how Jesus was mocked by the Roman soldiers, as they clothed him in a purple robe and a crown of thorns, calling out “Hail, King of the Jews” before he was led to die by crucifixion. The singing of versus 1-3 of, “When I survey the Wondrous Cross” then followed.
The opening hymn was number 81, “Now thank we all Our God”, and then came prayers of adoration and confession, led for us by Estelle Buckley.
Following the Lord’s Prayer, the traditional handing out of daffodil flowers to all the ladies of the church was then undertaken by a number of children.
The Praise Band then led us in the upbeat song, “Come on and celebrate” (Hymn number 44), as younger (and not so young) members of the church joined in with the joyous waiving of flags and the clapping of hands.
The first reading was from Isaiah 40, versus 1-8 and was read for us by Doris Partington. The reading reminds us that God is there and he provides comfort for us all during times good and bad.
Hymn number 693, “Beauty for brokenness” was next up, and this was followed by Brian Smith leading us in prayers of intercession. Part of Brian’s prayers included thoughts about Lent and of Mothering Sunday.
The second reading was read to us by Bob Read and it was from 2 Corinthians, chapter 1, versus 1-7. The reading was based on St Paul’s second letter to the Church at Corinth, in which he praised God for all his comfort and compassion during times of trouble, suffering and distress.
“As the deer pants for the water” was the next hymn (number 544), and this was followed by the sermon message from Revd. Keith.
The words ‘comfort’ and ‘celebration’ featured heavily in the sermon, as Revd Keith expanded on the meaning of the two scripture readings and God’s love for us all. He talked about a “God of all comfort and compassion”, and through God’s words and actions we are able to provide comfort and care for other people, and in turn we as the comfort provider receive comfort from God. Reference was made to those who are suffering troubles at the present time, just as Jesus suffered at the hands of the Romans, but through belief in God and prayers, that suffering can be relieved. Keith argued that no-one is exempt from suffering, but in a way it’s a kind of advantage because we can then comfort others as God comforts us. Suffering takes many forms: money troubles, ill health and conflict with other people are quite common. But for Keith, suffering through ridicule as a Christian; ignorance of the Christian message; indifference; persecution (overt and subtle forms) and criticism are all still prevalent in our society today.
But on a brighter note, Keith celebrated the joy of motherhood and the comfort, joy, love and compassion that are all around. Mothers by definition give birth, and have a responsibility to show love, care and compassion to their children. So, we as the ‘mother church’ should be doing the same not only to ourselves, but to the world beyond.
Keith concluded by saying that God gave us the strength to comfort through Jesus Christ, and through prayer and patience that we are given we have the power to overcome those difficult times. This is the Christian hope, he said, and may we seek to comfort in this needy world.
The final hymn was number 638, “Through all the changing scenes of life”, followed by the Benediction and the Grace.
On Mothering Sunday, this was a service was befitted the mood of the 150 strong congregation. Celebratory, joyous and uplifting are words that come to mind.
And of course we are all comforted by God’s presence.
Kindly provided by Stephen Maslivec - Church Steward