Despite a slight drop in attendance numbers due to the holiday season beginning, the pre-service “buzz” from friends and family in the congregation was in no way diminished at church this Sunday.
The friends and family of Harper (who was to be baptised today) added to the general chitter chatter of welcomes, catching up and general friendliness.
Rev Hilary welcomed us all and told us we were going to think about Smarties today – much to the childrens’ interest! She pointed us towards coloured Smartie-shaped pieces of card in the pockets of the chairs in front of us, and asked us to think of things of certain colours that we would want to thank God for –answers ranged from the blue of the sky, the green grass and yellow custard! She then led us in prayer, thanking God for all He gave us, and afterwards asked us to thanks God for something of that colour whenever we ate a Smartie.
Then followed the baptism of Harper Kendal Elsie, with a lovely picture of the star of the show on the screen. Rev Hilary then asked us to name a few of our favourite things, generating a little rivalry between Bolton Wanderers and Man United fans! This was followed by a video of the Julie Andrews song “a few of my favourite things” from “The Sound of Music” – with many of us singing along!
After a bible reading of Acts Ch 10, Rev Hilary gave us lesson 1, the gist of which was that in the reading some people thought they were God’s favourites, but God has no favourites – He loves you just the way you are. “The door is open to all”.
Rev Hilary then asked us “what separates people?” The answers – colour of skin, age, racism, wealth – in fact any kind of “ism”. But everybody is equal and everybody is loved. She showed us a Smarties advert in which a blue Smartie had been excluded from the others because the public didn’t like blue Smarties – but he was accepted back in the fold when he proved he was just like the other Smarties. We are all different, but we are all the same to God – there are no favourites.
Rev Hilary’s second lesson had the message about the world around us hardening us on the outside, but we can be soft on the inside – just like a Smartie! She told the story of a Man Utd fan who was beaten up on the way to the match, and was ignored as he lay in the gutter by two other Man U fans. Eventually a Man City fan picked him up, took him to hospital, and cared for him until he was home. The Man City fan (the good Samaritan) was “soft on the inside”. Jesus said “don’t be hard, be soft and gentle”.
In our prayers for others, Rev Hilary asked us to write something that we wanted to pray for on the coloured pieces of card, and she read some out during the prayers. We prayed of course for the families and friends of those so tragically killed in Nice.
Complemented by some lovely and lively hymns and songs, this was a service to really enjoy – relaxed, happy and with an excellent message for us all.
Kindly provided by Peter Haslam