As I sat and waited for the service to begin, I found myself appreciating the atmosphere of our new church more than I had ever done before.
This was a church with things going on. There was a buzz about the place, friends greeting each other, catching up on how things were going; apprehensive new faces being greeted as new friends.
The technical crew discussing the final arrangements of the projection and sound displays; and in our corner at the back (chosen for minimal disruption from a one year old), my grandson happily played with other children from the Junior Church with no hint of a “shush” from anyone. Familiar hymn tunes played on the organ to add to the ambience.
Eventually it was time for the service to start. After the call to worship, we opened with a good “catchy” hymn, “Praise the Lord, his Glories Show”, the full congregation giving the hymn full justice. This was followed by a responsive prayer during which we asked God to “teach us to be still and know that you are God” – an idea that we could carry forward into our working week! We then sang the Lord’s Prayer to end this meditative part of the service.
Our preacher Christine Aplin then related a story aimed at the children concerning a cat named “Faith” who lived in a church and had been adopted by the rector. Despite the rector’s best efforts, Faith continued to hide her kitten in a cubby hole, and it transpired that as a result of this both mother and kitten survived a bomb attack during the Second World War. The moral? That Faith knew exactly where to place her faith, despite other influences.
We then sang “One More Step along the World I Go” as the children stood out front and waved their flags enthusiastically – although my grandson Henry seemed more interested in his biscuit.....The children then left us for Junior Church, and it was most enlightening to see how less full the church seemed once they had left!
We then had our readings – Matthew, Ch. 13 vs 24-30 “”Weeds Amongst the Wheat”, and St Paul’s letter to the Colossians Ch. 2 vs 6-15 (concerning the fullness of life with Jesus).
After singing “Jesus the name high over all”, Christine delivered her sermon. It was based on the fact that plants cannot grow alone without weeds infiltrating their space. The parable read from the book of Matthew tells us that the disciples were worried about some new followers of Jesus that they weren’t keen on, and thought that Jesus should do some “weeding”. But Jesus said “judge not – all must be left with God, who will discern who the weeds are”.
The Devil sows seeds everywhere, producing weeds that attack the church as it attempts to grow, but Jesus would rather tolerate these tares (weeds) than damage the wheat by pulling them up from their roots. Jesus says “wait until the harvest – for there will be a day of reckoning”. We can be wheat or weeds......it is our choice.
The service drew to a conclusion with the prayers of intercession (praying for others) and two more hymns – again enthusiastically sung by the congregation. Refreshments after the service again gave friends old and new the opportunity to chat and care for each other.
All in all a useful recharging of the batteries and good use of an hour on Sunday morning!
Kindly written by Peter Haslam