Hello everyone! My beloved was exhausted yesterday and dozed and rested; he could not cook, as he usually does on a Saturday, but he was able to prepare it later this morning just in time for lunch. The chicken casserole was delicious and the roast potatoes perfection!
It is a day of sunshine and showers, rather more like April than the end of February, but it does make me feel good to see the sun. I enjoyed my walk to and from church, as no one needed a lift today. It is good too that it is milder. It made me feel more optimistic, especially as we are in the process of thinking about the future of our church; we are an ageing congregation and we have to draw on savings to pay essential bills. With reserves we could keep going for 5 more years, so a review group has been meeting to discuss how they see our future. It was discouraging for us when they presented us the bare bones of the report, which is for our circuit meeting, as it seemed the only way forward was to close. However they did mention our future in conjunction with St Peter’s Anglican Church, at least sharing premises for certain things. Our main stumbling block is that our chapel is a listed building, which means we have to justify even why we want to replace our pews with chairs, or we are not allowed to go ahead! Hopefully together with St Peter’s we will be able to convince the hierarchy to allow us to remove the pulpit and flatten the floor, and have chairs instead. At the moment we feel discouraged as we have been trying to do that for about 10 years and have even spent £5000 on an architect’s plan, but still we are no further forward. However at our Church Council meeting our minister did assure us that the circuit did see that a Methodist presence in the town centre was still needed.
This morning’s service was led by Rev. David Bucktrout and it was an encouraging uplifting worshipful service. Carol, a young lady, who has recently joined us at Wesley Chapel, as she feels at home with us, today was accompanied by her parents, who worship at Starbeck Chapel, where she grew up. It was good to meet her family, who had joined us as they enjoy a service with David, who was their former minister. I met David before the service to let him know about a member of our church, who was in Intensive Care; May, who is 91 ½, had emergency surgery on Thursday for bowel cancer; she had the lower bowel removed and has a colostomy. When our deacon visited her the following day found her sitting up and drinking a cup of tea; she was delighted that we would be praying for her! I am sure I would have been more floored that she was!
David’s children’s address used some snowdrops from his garden. He said that seeing the snowdrops always made him feel spring was on the way! He was disappointed when they were covered in snow, but they seemed brighter and bouncier after the snow melted! He showed us the different varieties of the snow drops growing in his garden, all of which looked so bright. He told us we could lie on the ground and look at the inside of flowers, which are each individually as beautiful as the outside. He thought that we had probably wondered what outfit to wear for coming to church, but had we also prepared ourselves inwardly for worship? He told us that with Jesus’ help we could make our inner life match with our outward appearance. We sang two verses from hymn no 572 v1:
‘Think of a world without any flowers,
Think of a world without any trees,
Think of a sky without any sunshine,
Think of the air without any breeze.
We thank you, Lord, for the flowers and trees and sunshine;
We thank you, Lord, and praise your holy name.’ by Doreen Newport.
The Psalm he chose was 121, which was my mother’s favourite; the psalmist looked to the hills for his help but realised that his help came from the Lord:
‘I look to the mountains; where will my help come from? My help will come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.’ It is as we look up that we are lifted above the struggles and disappointments of our lives to see Jesus and be free from our worries for at least some time. The gospel reading was from Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus instructed his disciples not to worry as God cared for the flowers of the fields, which were more beautiful than even Solomon in all his glory and would care therefore much more for us. David imagined the child and teenager Jesus running in the hills and finding peace for prayer there, noticing the beauty of the flowers in their abundance. However David did acknowledge that it is not that easy to forget our worries, but if we concentrate on Jesus, seeking his help and comfort we can forget our fears for a while.
We sang a hymn from our Songs for Worship, ‘Lord, make me a mountain’:
Lord, make me a mountain standing tall for You;
Strong and free and holy, in everything I do.
Lord, make me a fire burning strong for You.
Lord, make me the servant of everyone I meet.
Lord, make me a candle shining with Your light;
Steadfastly unflickering, standing for the right.
Lord, make me a fire burning strong for You.
Lord, make me humble in everything I do.
Lord, make me a mountain, strong and tall for You;
Lord, make me a fountain of water clear and new.
Lord, make me a shepherd that I may feed Your sheep;
Lord, make me the servant of everyone I meet. By Paul Field 1983 Waif Productions.
We can do nothing on our own but as we look to Jesus he helps us to stand tall, burning strongly for Jesus, keeping our light shining brightly for justice; only in the strength of our Lord can we hope to share his love and acceptance with this needy world. David’s intercessions were encouraging to us as well, reminding us that obstacles, which seem insurmountable to us, are not so for our father in heaven. As the service drew to a close I felt uplifted and close to our Father in heaven. The final hymn drew everything to a conclusion reminding us of the fellowship we share at our chapel.
O God our Father, who dost make us one,
Heart bound to heart, in love of thy dear Son,
Now as we part and go our several ways,
Touch every lip, may every voice be praise-
Praise for the fellowship that here we find,
The fellowship of heart and mind and soul,
Praise for the bonds of love and brotherhood,
Bonds wrought by thee, who makest all things good.
Lord, make us strong, for thou alone dost know
How oft we turn our faces from the foe;
How oft, when claimed by dark temptation’s hour,
We lose our hold on thee, and of thy power.
Go with us, Lord, from hence; we only ask
That thou be sharer in our daily task;
So, side by side with thee, shall each one know
The blessedness of heaven begun below.
This is the day that the Lord has made and I rejoice and am glad in it.