Last Sunday morning, our minister, the Revd Mark Lawrence led our worship and Holy Communion at Ashley Methodist Church, and he was warmly welcomed by our chief steward Bunty Hodgkins. Mark chose the second of the Beatitudes, from Christ’s ‘Sermon on the Mount’ as his theme, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted”. Words from Psalm 117 were used as our call to worship “Praise the Lord, all nations! Praise him all peoples! His love for us is strong and his faithfulness is eternal”,
We sang the lovely old hymn “Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father” to open, followed by prayers of praise, adoration, and thanksgiving. After the hymn “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind” Mark led us in our prayers for others remembering Her Majesty the Queen as she celebrated her 70 years as sovereign and mourned the loss of her father King George VI on this day 70 years ago. We prayed for persecuted Christians and those in need. Gerry Maxwell read from St Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, chapter one in which Paul gives thanks to God, the God from whom all help comes.
In his address Mark continued his theme of the second of the Beatitudes reminding us of the joy of knowing God’s favour and Grace and even in difficult times we can still know the joy of God. Mark spoke of unrighteous mourning when we do not get our own way, when we are inconvenienced, and we cannot move on. This can turn into resentment and bitterness. But there is a healthy and righteous mourning, and we should rightly mourn when there are unjust things going on. We need to see ‘goodness’ prosper and mourn broken relationships in families and governance. Jesus mourned the spiritual emptiness of those in authority. The good news is that God will lift us up and joy will come in the morning as he fulfils his promise “for they will be comforted”. He comforts us in all our troubles so we can share that comfort with others.
We sang the hymn “Rock of Ages” before we celebrated the sacrament of Holy Communion in which Mark was assisted by Jill Harrison. Finally we sang “In Christ alone my hope is found” to complete a wonderful service of worship.