This morning I was leading worship and preaching with my own congregation, Anniesland – it was good to be there after several weeks elsewhere. We are a small group (only 10 this morning – sometimes as many as 20) meeting in the basement of a block of flats.
This is the result of a realistic but also visionary project, started over seven years ago. The old, over-large building was demolished and a housing company built much-needed flats in what is an excellent location, with the church retaining ownership of a suite of rooms in the basement. You may have seen this photo in the Methodist Recorder when the new church opened (or more recently when, interestingly, the photo was used again to illustrate “mission alongside the poor”). As you can see, it was taken on a sunny day, which we do have in Glasgow, but not today – today we have been battered by storms and rain!
I had been asked to incorporate the material for Methodist Homes Sunday into today’s service and was glad to do so, taking their excellent theme of “Creating Caring Communities”. One element of this seems to me to be Presence. This desire to offer a distinctive Methodist presence in the community of Anniesland lies behind the building scheme – although few in number, the members didn’t want to pack up altogether. So, we meet to worship and pray, always very conscious of those who are “living and moving and having their being” just above our heads, and hoping to find ways in which we can be salt and light in the community. Please pray for us.
One of the hymns I chose for the service was the brilliant “Let love be real” by Michael Forster (615 in Singing the Faith). Every line is a sermon in how we should live as church and as community. It challenges me every time I sing it.
It reminds me too of the words of mission partner Barry Sloan at the Methodist Conference in early July who used the phrase “you only had one job” to remind us that, whatever else the church seeks to be and to do, we are here first and foremost to demonstrate the love of God. (If you’re not familiar with “you only had one job” try putting it into a search engine to see some amusing examples of a simple task going badly wrong…)
“As God loves us, so let us love each other: with no demands, just open hands and space to grow…” Jill