Three weeks of sabbatical, three very different church services. This week, Amanda and I were child free and visited Edgbaston Old Church where Nick Tucker has been vicar for a year or so. This service pretty much completes the spectrum the forms of worship we could experience. We’ve been to a pizza, pop and conversational service at Bearwood Chapel, a reverential but informal communion service in a school hall at St Luke’s and this week a fully liturgical service, with a robed choir, procession, organ and service book.
The timing of today’s service has been significant. Three weeks of sabbatical study has opened my eyes to what God does when his people gather for communion. Nick did a good job of leading us through the service, with the opening words (something like) “As we are gathered today, we will hear God’s word, sing his praise, make requests to him in prayer and he will join us as his people as we share in communion.” I now have a sense of wonder and praise for God, that he works and things really change when He gathers and unites his people in Christ, which I did not have before this sabbatical. There is much, much more going on than a social gathering of people who share the same faith, hear the same sermon and enjoy the same form of worship. Having thought about what happens at communion, over the past three weeks, I am eager to teach others, so they can share in wonder, praise and true gospel unity.
Edgbaston Old Church is significantly bigger than it appears from the road. It’s twice as wide as I imagined, with an almost square footprint. There were around 60 or 70 worshippers in a building which could probably seat 400. There is huge potential for growth, especially given the 28,500+ students from over 150 nations at the University of Birmingham, as well as the settled population of the parish. Nick gave out prayer cards from Leading your Church into Growth, with the following prayer, which I will pray with the church:
God of Mission
Who alone brings growth to your Church,
Send your Holy Spirit to give
Vision to our planning,
Wisdom to our actions,
And power to our witness.
Help our church to grow in numbers,
In spiritual commitment to you,
And in service to our local community,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.