Harvest Sunday and All Age Worship led by our Minister, Reverend Hilary Howarth, including the baptism of Thomas Elliot Dempster.The theme of today’s service was “God’s precious gift of water”. The Church was filled to overflowing again with many guests from the Baptismal party adding to our regular congregation.
We were welcomed by Rev. Hilary who opened by pointing out that traditional Harvest displays in Church usually do not include water and so set the theme for the service.
Our opening hymn was “Come, ye thankful people come” with Harvest gifts being taken to the front of the Church during the singing of the hymn.
Rev. Hilary then asked the congregation what we had used water for that morning and the answers showed how basic is our need for water. She also pointed out that water is also used for baptism and asked the children why they thought this was, receiving one child’s answer of: “Because it is pure”.
We then had prayers of approach, adoration, confession and thanks led by Matsa and Sean Muchenje.
Next came the Baptism of baby Thomas. The Minister urged everyone, when giving their responses to “give it some welly”, to use the Lancashire vernacular. Thomas seemed to know what was expected and gave his own vocal contribution, proving a bit of a handful!
The second song was “Join the Harvest Celebration” accompanied by the Faith Band.
Rev. Hilary then gave some scientific facts and statistics about water, putting these into everyday context with the horrific fact that disease caused by insanitary water supply throughout the world would have killed 58 children by the time our service had finished. Poor water sanitation kills more people than war.
The money collected by the Water Aid Charity helps people around the world to have clean water, something that we, in this country, take for granted.
We then had our third hymn, “We plough the fields and scatter”.
Rev. Hilary asked the congregation for examples of water featuring in Bible stories and then went on to tell us that the Council of Churches have said that the gift of water is the priceless gift of God and clean water is a basic human right. She then questioned us all as to what we can do about helping provide clean water to so many parts of the world where there is no clean water.
Alison Critchley gave readings from St John, Chapter 4, verses 13 and 14, and from Chapter 7, verses 37and 38. She then told us that our Harvest gifts of dry goods would be going to the Bolton Young Persons Housing Scheme, which helps young people aged 16 to 25 who are homeless and vulnerable to turn their lives around by offering accommodation, emotional and practical help.
Rev. Hilary asked the congregation what their favourite drinks were. She then told us about the meeting between Jesus and the woman at the well in St John’s Gospel, Chapter 4, where Jesus contrasted man’s need for water between the physical and the spiritual, the water that he gives us springing within us to bring eternal life.
She then used a subtle change of a well-known image and slogan to that of “Jesus Christ, He’s the real thing”. We were asked to hold up a glass of water when we returned home and to use it to celebrate the Harvest and know that Jesus Christ is eternally refreshing.
Our next hymn was “Pears and Apples”, again accompanied by the Faith Band.
We then had prayers for others led by Brian Smith and Estelle Buckley, followed by our Offering for the work of the Church and collection of Water Aid envelopes.
Our closing hymn was “Beauty for brokenness” followed by a blessing from Rev. Hilary.
So try for yourselves after reading this to think of as many Bible stories as you can which feature water, then pour yourself a glass, look how clean and pure it is and give thanks to God for this immeasurable gift.
Kindly provided by Joe Leighton