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A Normal Sunday at Mornington

Joan Robertson


Joan Robertson reflects on a 'normal' Sunday at Mornington


November 12th. An ordinary Sunday. We are in pre-Advent time, so there is no big liturgical buzz. We’re green. Waiting for the waiting season.

So what happens on an ordinary Sunday at Mornington??

Our minister, Stuart Grant leads worship.

Kia ora tatou. Kia ora

As usual, the candle splutters and flickers but eventually bursts into flame
“We light this candle to remind us of the light of God’s love,
And the warmth of God’s welcome to everyone,
And so, together we say”

Welcome to our place,
Welcome to worship,
Welcome in the name of God.”

Now for the friendly bit, the people part, and other notices:
Today we are delighted to welcome back our choir leader and organist Colin Gibson and his wife Jeanette from their travels in the U.K., Europe and U.S. Other returning travelers are also welcomed back, and good wishes extended to some about to journey abroad. And we welcome visiting members of the extended Tregurtha family.

We sing. We sing from With one voice (1982), hymn no. 13, “Let all the world in every corner sing”. Wonderful joyous words by George Herbert – ooh, he lived a short life, 1593-1633, I note. “I love this hymn”, I whisper to my neighbour, who replies that she loved it when she sang it in a Baptist Church she used to attend. I remember it from my childhood in an Anglican church.

“The church with psalms must shout,
no door can keep them out…”

The words are swept along by the music of Basil Harwood (he lived till he was 90!)

And now we farewell the Tregurthas who will soon be departing for Richmond, Nelson. An appreciation and gift was presented to Judy and Paul by our minister Stuart Grant. He spoke of their involvement with our church over the last 17 years, during which time Paul was accepted and studied for ministry, served in the parish of Tokomairiro, and then as hospital chaplain in Dunedin. Paul sang in the choir, led occasional worship services, and Judy served on the Leaders’ meeting committee. They will surely be missed.

And now it is time for the choir to sing. But first the newly returned choir master introduces the work. In the final year of his life Mozart wrote The magic flute. John Wesley had recommended that tunes used in church worship should be borrowed from popular music of the day. The tune of a duet from this popular opera of Mozart’s was adapted and used as a setting for the hymn “Behold, the servant of the Lord” in an early Methodist hymnbook. Colin played first the Mozart original before the choir joined in singing the arranged tune. A gentle and meditative piece.

Children’s time has been delayed today, and only three or four children gather at the front to hear a story about love -- a story about a baby lion who queries the accepted customs of his pride. Well! If only it could work like this! Can it work even for humans??

The hymn, “Sing a happy Alleluia!” from Alleluia Aotearoa, no. 118, follows. The words are by Shirley Murray, the tune by Colin Gibson.

“Sing a happy Alleluia!
Sing it out with heart and style,
we’re the echo of God’s laughter,
we’re the image of God’s smile…”

We sang it out with heart and style!

The scripture readings are from Micah 4: 3-4a: a vision of peace, and 1 Corinthians, 12: 4-12, and 27: the church family, diverse, yet one.

In his sermon, Stuart speaks from his experience of the Methodist Conference, recently held in Rotorua, emphasizing the President’s address to the conference. John Salmon is in his second year of presidency, and is concerned that the church should be relevant to the world, must recognise diversity of cultures, and must also face up to current world issues such as climate change.

We make our offering to the work of the church:

“May we see our giving not as a dull duty
But as an act of gratitude and praise”

Then the Sunday School children rush back into church, eager to show what they’ve been doing in Sunday School, and we sing the final hymn:

“We are many, we are one,
and the work of Christ is done
when we learn to live in true community,
as the stars that fill the night,
as a flock of birds in flight,
as the cluster of the grapes upon the vine…”
(Faith forever singing, no. 67, words and music by Colin Gibson)

We say the Benediction together, and chat and exchange greetings with one another while going out to morning tea in the church lounge, where cakes and sandwiches are being served as a farewell to the Tregurthas, and we talk some more!
A normal Sunday at Mornington?? Well, no Sunday is normal! People come and people go. We go on journeys and return. Some leave to live elsewhere, and newcomers arrive. We grow older, children grow up, babies are born. We try to be welcoming to everyone, to care for each other in sorrows and celebrations. We try to love as Jesus did. We rejoice in our Church family.

I quote from Colin’s hymn once again:

“All division is made whole
when we honour every soul,
find the life of God in every you and me,
as the fingers of a hand,
as the grains that form the sand,
as the cluster of the grapes upon the vine …”




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