Hello everyone! I have enjoyed having the two long weekends, especially as I have had 3 services in a row in the last 3 weeks. I must admit that I feel a sense of relief that I am not preaching next Sunday! Don’t get me wrong; I love to share my faith but I also like to go to some services to worship as a member of the congregation and get replenished. I have enjoyed more relaxing starts to the day and also more time to get into the garden to tackle the rampant ground elder and prevent the dandelions from filling the garden! I love to see the spring flowers, see the apple blossom and enjoy the new life in the garden. It is a treat to watch the sparrows splashing and bathing in their bird bath and watch the water splashing out as the starlings have a good bath in their deeper bird bath! We even had the joy of watching a starling preening itself after its extensive bath; it was fascinating, as he was perched so close to us. It is lovely watching the dunnocks pottering around and the blackbirds moving from one feeding tray to another. Once we sit down and relax the birds come out to play and feed; there is usually a joyful chorus of birdsong or birds chattering together in the bushes. It is great when one of the blackbirds takes up his elevated position at the top of our conifer and sings to his heart’s content!
I led worship at Park Grove Chapel in Knaresborough. I found the chapel easily although I found it more difficult to park in the car park; apparently the secret is to reverse into the car park to park successfully. I shall remember that if or when I preach there again. We in Harrogate will become one circuit with Knaresborough in 2012 under a new title, which will be more sensible. The chapel’s children spend most of the service in their Sunday school group so they only came in just before the final hymn, which I thought was a pity as they missed the children’s address. They told us about how they learnt about the books of the Bible and found them in a word search. I did the children’s address for the congregation and they enjoyed taking part, I think; it was the Easter Story told in small Easter egg containers distributed amongst the congregation and those who had the relevant numbers opened them and explained the relevance of each one to the Easter story. Most of them were obvious to work out, Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, the last Supper and the crucifixion and resurrection; only 3 contents of the eggs puzzled those who opened them – namely a file of perfume, which was meant to remind them of Mary’s anointing of Jesus in preparation for his burial; 3 five pence coins meant to represent the 30 pieces of silver and a vinegar smelling piece of foam which was meant to be the vinegar offered to Jesus on the cross. Of course we finished with the final egg being empty with the message that he was not there. One gentleman told me that he was going to put a spoke in my message by saying that Jesus was not in the eggs; I agreed but asked if he could open his egg to complete the activity. He did take part then. I chose Easter hymns to continue the joy of the Easter season like ‘This joyful Eastertide’, ‘Rejoice and be glad’, ‘I know that my Redeemer lives’ and when ‘Easter to the dark world came.’ Our prayers included the idea, we believe, help thou my unbelief, as we feel powerless in face of injustice, war, oppression and unequal distribution of wealth. We considered how the disciples needed to be witnesses to the risen Lord; Peter and the other apostles stayed shut away after Jesus’ death until Jesus appeared to them and they saw the living Lord. Thomas was not there when Jesus came to the hidden disciples and he doubted that he was alive; he wanted to see with his own eyes that Jesus was alive. When Jesus came again more than a week later Thomas was there and believed that Jesus was alive as soon as he saw him. Alleluia! He is risen indeed.