A Family Occasion: Our Minister, Revd Hilary Howarth, doesn't look old enough to be a Grandma! But, on Sunday (7th August) she baptised her 6th grandchild, Rory Michael McDermott, son of Jen and Dan and brother to Jack and Harry, surrounded by relatives, friends and, of course, us - his Triangle family.
Being baptised by Grandma ensures the baby won't 'let the Devil out' and Rory beamed at the congregation throughout. It was the warmest and happiest of occasions - as Hilary put it 'A gift of God - a moment when we are aware of the connection between Heaven and Earth'.
With the opening events in Rio de Janeiro filling our TV screens, the theme of the service was 'The Olympic Games' and the qualities needed for success in this greatest of sporting events. We'd bounced off the starting line with 'Shine, Jesus, shine' (SF 59) and moved straight into the baptism, the congregation craning forward - some even standing up - to catch a glimpse of the happy group at the altar, before following up with 'Siyahamba' -'We are marching in the light of God' (SF 483). This catchy hymn had been chosen by Jack and Harry, who sing it at school and has its final verse in Swahili. Two readings by Paul followed (1 Corinthians 9: 24-26 and Philippians 3: 12-14) which both emphasised the theme of being self-disciplined in pursuit of the Faith, the message picked up by Hilary in her talk to the children, 'Running the race'. She emphasised the qualities needed for success in the Olympics - focus, discipline, dedication - equally important in the Christian context if we are to win the accolade, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant'. Paul himself had shown all these qualities in the face of adversity, culminating in his imprisonment and cruel death. 'Be thou my vision' (SF 545) was followed by the third reading (Matthew 28, 16-20) in which Jesus assures his disciples "I am with you always to the very end of the age'.
"We are all in the race of Life", said Hilary, "so what prize are we hoping to achieve?" Using examples from the Amsterdam Olympics in 1924, the Seoul Olympics (1988) and the Barcelona Olympics (1992) she emphasised the importance of Integrity, Honesty, Focus and Dedication and reduced many of us to tears by showing the unforgettable incident in the Barcelona 400 metre final when the British athlete, Derek Redmond, pulled up 250 metres short with a torn hamstring. Bursting out of the crowd, fighting off the officials, came his father, who supported him to the finish line. "God is like that" said Hilary.
We had a technical hitch of our own as we sang 'Come let us sing of a wonderful love' (SF 443) when the words failed to appear on the screens. In our turn, we were borne up by the Triangle choir who earned a round of applause of their own. The Prayers of Intercession included one for all the competitors in Rio, and we ended with another of favourite of Jack and Harry McDermott, 'One more step along the world I go' (SF 476).
Kindly written by Astley Jones