On October 5th our new minister Rev. Christine Gillespie led the chapel anniversary service; our chapel is 152 years old; in a communion service. Worship began as we sang, ‘Born in song, God’s people are always singing.’ Christine then led the opening prayers before we sang ‘Come Holy Spirit, heavenly dove.’ I read Acts 21 v1-21, before we sang ‘Let every Christian pray.’ The second reading was 1 Peter 2 v4-10, before Christine preached.
People like to go on holiday travelling from Yorkshire to Cornwall, as incidentally my family did for a number of years, when the girls were younger. Christine did not like to travel far normally but she had to go to a weekend conference in Sierra Leone. Whilst she was there she was interested in the variety of buildings in New Town; she was struck by the contrast in the kind of buildings, from very modern building to insubstantial shelters. She noticed one building in particular; it was a partly completed sky scraper; the first floor was a supermarket, the second floor had completed flats and the third floor was a concrete floor and steel girders, as the constructors had abandoned the building at that stage. On the third floor there were dozens of tiny shelters and huts. Although the building had never been completed and the third floor had no roof or shelter, it was fully used to its potential, with the simple dwellings on the third floor.
Paul’s letter also described the church being a ‘building’ of ‘living stones’. We too are a church of ‘living stones’ as we remember a faithful Christian presence being here for more than 150 years. The launch last week of Wesley Christian Centre was a further step in that Christian presence here. We can look back over the past years of worship which laid the foundation built by those who lead worship and prepare for worship here, where lives are strengthened by pastoral care. We are thankful for the services which happen here including a free Christmas dinner for those who are alone or in need on Christmas. We are called to offer encouragement to those of us who work, pray and receive guidance.
On the other 2 floors we work to try and fulfil our potential of being living stones growing, developing and changing. A friend who was about to be a new grandma did not mind whether it was a boy or a girl. That child would have so much to learn before going to school and in his or her relationships in life with parents there would be sometimes struggles, but all his or her experiences would enable the child to grow. If we are to be living stones we need to grow in our witness and service; we need to pause and reflect on the ways we have grown. What have we learned in the previous year? What has God been calling me to do and how have I responded? How have we grown or responded in the times of encouragement and challenge? If we are living stones implies that we have grown, changed and developed in our faith and service, as we are filled by His Spirit.
The church began with the vision to bring something new and vibrant to form a spiritual house. On the day of Pentecost after the disciples had obeyed the command of Jesus to wait for power from above; they were gathered together in expectation, when the Spirit fell upon them with a rushing wind and fire filling them with courage, wisdom and power as Jesus had promised. If we are to fulfil our potential we need the spiritual indwelling of the Holy Spirit so we can draw on his strength. We will need challenge to complete that work we are being called to. We are not called to be like that incomplete building in Sierra Leone, but as living stones we need to grow continually in faith and seek constant guidance.
Our part time minister Rev Trevor Dixon led the prayers of intercession before we sang, ‘That mighty resurrected God.’ Christine led our communion service which concluded when we sang, ‘Now let us from this table rise.’