On Sunday May 15th our local preacher Mike Greenberg led worship. He had been especially invited to lead worship as it was the Guild Sunday. Worship began when we sang the Guild hymn, ‘God in Jesus Christ who calls us.’ Mike led the prayers of praise, thanksgiving, confession and the Lord’s Prayer. Mike told us about the background of the Guild, which was founded in 1894 to stop young people drifting away from the church. There were detailed rules laid down for a young people’s society to meet weekly or at least regularly. There was apparently a 152 page Wesley Guild manual, which stipulated that the treasurer be a local business man. The Guild was the Methodist youth organisation, which had spring Guild festivals or gatherings; later MAYC replaced those gatherings. The Guild has survived and adapted to new circumstances; now it is mainly a group of retired members of our chapel anyway. The youth gatherings are now called 3Generate. The youth work is now led by a youth president.
We sang ‘May the mind of Christ my Saviour’ before Mike went on to remind us that it was also Pentecost Sunday. We heard the reading from Acts 2.1-21. It is the traditional story of tongues of flame we all know so well; maybe Mike said we could take the description literally or see it as a dramatised attempt to explain what happened; Mike believes the latter. Why did some think they were drunk? Why had they not all felt the effects? It was illustrated at that time in that way. How would such an event happen on Wesley Chapel’s steps? Many might see fiery tongues as a conjuring trick or even call the fire brigade? However the underlying message has not changed that something profound happened to the disciples on that day, which removed their fear and made them convincing, joyful and courageous in their witness; so a large number became believers. We sang, ‘Lord you call us to your service’ before he asked us if we could remember what Trevor had said the previous week. Trevor had wondered how what we could do to reach people outside the church, who did not feel church was relevant for them. Mike widened his thoughts to include also those who had left the church as they could not believe how the church members acted. How is the church relevant for our community? Mike reminded us that the underlying message of the church has not changed from the message of love, tolerance and care, which Jesus had shown. How can we make the concept of the Holy Spirit alive for today? Mike recommended the local book by Rob Cohen, ‘Common Ground’ as a very good read. Apparently it is an exploration of land near Bilton, Nidd and Bilton Lane and he observes what happens around him in the wildlife. One aspect which moved Mike was Rob’s account of the birth of his first son, when his wife Rosie suffered a major haemorrhage and gradually the bleeding was stemmed by injections, but she nearly died. After holding his baby and his wife’s hand for 4 hours he was exhausted and drained and the midwife hugged him. That gesture restored him as it was just what he needed. Mike saw that experience as an example of the Holy Spirit in action in the love of one person for another. I know that when I received the Holy Spirit in my life I felt filled with the deep loving fullness of God wrapping me round and filling me with joy and although life has had its ups and downs since, that experience of the presence of God’s Holy Spirit in my life still uplifts me.
-We sang ‘We turn to you, O God of every nation’ Mike reminded us that it was also the beginning of Christian Aid week. We only have a small number of collectors in our chapel; I hate doing door to door collections but I am happy to give if someone comes to the door; I used to do a lot of door to door collections when my first husband was alive, but always felt I was intruding on people and making them feel they had to give something; the poorest were always the most generous. Stephen used to love doing door to door collections and always did well. I do stand in the street and hold a collecting box on occasions but then I can be ignored and it is up to people to give if they wish to or not. I always give my biggest smile to anyone who gives and profuse thanks!! Some people feel charity begins at home and only give to local charities. It does begin and home but where does it end, Mike asks? Mike felt embarrassed as I do by the Prime Minister made off the cuff remarks of corruption in countries like Nigeria; the Nigerian president gave no apology but rather sensibly challenged David Cameron to tackle the British tax havens where money meant for his country goes!! Corporations and businesses stealing money from countries are corrupt, but Mike reminds us that we too are part of the problem. We should look at the corruption in our country too; our so called civilised country is part of the problem; there is a drug problem in the West as there is a market to sell drugs here. If we stopped exporting arms, weren’t so keen on oil supplies and didn’t want to keep wealth in our country for ourselves, then maybe we could criticise corrupt governments. We are not superior nor do we deserve riches. The refugees are not inferior. We are part of the problem; Agencies like Christian Aid and All we can try their best to help rectify the problems. We can all promote charity work; we can write to MPs; we can protest against the fear messages demonising the migrant crisis. Boris Johnson even accused the EU of wanting to become the same as Hitler!! The tragedy is that a lot of people believe that!! We can speak against hate and rabble rousing and should do so.
Mike led the prayers of intercession with times of silence for us to use our own prayers. Worship concluded when we sang ‘There’s a spirit in the air.’
We from the Guild joined together for lunch at Ascot House Hotel. I had a cauliflower cheese starter, followed by a turkey dish and finishing with a Knickerbockerglory; delicious. We had a lovely chat over our lunches finishing with tea or coffee and mint. It was a good social occasion.