Sunday 8th May. Despite the dire forebodings of the weather forecasters, this was a golden morning - a heartening example of God 1, Met Office nil!
Visiting The Triangle with the message that God's love has no strings was Mrs Gail Danks, one of the newer members of our Lay Preacher team.
Gail guarantees a fun service; she has a common touch and gives the impression of having risen from the ranks of ordinary folk, rather than descended from on High.
We kicked off dead on 10.30 with 'Jesus calls us here to meet him' (Singing the Faith 28) followed by the opening prayers and the sung Lord's Prayer, always a crowd-pleaser. Gail began her talk to the Junior church by announcing "We're all young at heart, aren't we", which gladdened many of the senior members of the congregation, including your correspondent. "Normally", she continued, "we talk about other peoples' achievements, but today I'm going to talk about mine!" She showed us one of her proudest mementoes - the Venture Scouts belt she won after completing a 10-day expedition. Then she asked for the congregation's greatest achievements. Tennis, Lifesaving and Ballet Awards, 30 years as a Scout leader, 100% attendance at school - the list went on and on. At the time, Gail said, she wouldn't say anything about her success, now she's only too happy to bask in the admiration of others. Christ, she reminded us, died to give us the freedom to bring our talents to the fore. If we achieve things, no matter how small, we should be proud of them and not hide them away. Above all, we should try to use our talent in the service of our community. 'Lord the light of your love is shining' (STF 59) set the flags waving at the top end of the Nave and a chance to clap along, too, before Sunday School scampered off about their own business.
The first Reading told the sobering tale of Paul and Silas in prison in Phillipi, (Acts 16, 16-34). Gail picked up on the end of the story and emphasised Paul's promise to the jailer, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved". 'In Christ Alone my Hope is Found' followed - Hymn 351 in Singing the Faith and a great favourite, you'll remember, of Revd. Devadas Matcha. The second reading, 'Jesus prays for all Believers' (John 17, 20-26) was echoed in the Sermon, in which Gail emphasised the message of Stuart Townsend’s marvellous modern hymn - 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'. To illustrate this Gail read an account of a 'Party of Grace and Love' in which the writer, deep in the night in Honolulu, had wandered into a diner peopled only by off-duty prostitutes. One of them revealed that she had never had a birthday party. The next night, at 3.30 am, the writer returned with a birthday cake. The prostitute was "flabbergasted". 'That's the kind of church', the piece concluded, 'that Jesus came to make on Earth'.
'Take this moment, sign and space' (STF 513), the Prayers of Intercessions and 'Lord, you call us all to your service' (STF 664) sent us out into the sunshine again, with plenty to think about and pleasingly full of Triangle coffee and biscuits.
Kindly written by Astley Jones