For the third Sunday in Lent, we were delighted to have Mr Ian White from Alsager lead our morning’s worship. Ian is the Secretary of the Chester & Stoke on Trent District of the Methodist Church and he and his wife Judith were warmly welcomed by our steward Bunty Hodgkins. As she draped a purple cloak over the cross, Bunty read a verse which told of Jesus being arrested by Roman soldiers and being led away before being tried by Pontius Pilate.
For his call to worship Ian read the opening verses of Psalm 89 “O Lord I will always sing of your constant love. I will proclaim your faithfulness for ever”. Our prayers of praise, thanksgiving and confession followed our opening hymn “Light of the world you stepped down into darkness” reminding us of the horrors of the current war in Ukraine. Neil and Jill Barnett provided the piano and organ music. With this same thought Ian spoke of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and our prayers for peace throughout the world after which we sang the great Isaac Watts hymn “O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come”.
Our first bible reading was from James, chapter one in which the writer asks everyone to be quick to listen but slow to speak and slow to become angry. This was read by Keith Harrison, and Jill Harrison followed by reading from Mark, chapter one in which Jesus takes to task the teachings of the Pharisees on ritual cleanliness.
“Quick to listen and slow to speak” was the theme of Ian’s sermon as he recalled words of James writing on practical Christianity. “Now is the time for the church to listen” said Ian as he spoke of the impact of the pandemic on church life which left many Christians isolated, but worship is an act of will and “I will worship God” said the Psalmist. Listening is a ministry not for some but for many and we need to listen to each other and be slow to speak. In this we have a challenge but what a great task it is.
In our prayers for others we prayed for persecuted Christians in China, for Hong Kong and the Churches in the Newcastle on Tyne District, and for those known to us who need our prayers. We prayed in humility to the response “Lord in your graciousness hear us”. After our closing hymn “Brother, sister, let me serve you” we concluded with the Blessing.