Martin Weymont responded straight away when I asked if I could have dates for possible visits to share worship with the different congregations on the FACT area. He sent me a plan for Mells Group ( which in itself is a feet of organisation, allowing through use of lay readers, retired clergy and visiting leaders, a service every Sunday in each of the 5 Churches of the group ) and I found that yesterday they were holding a group united service called "Five Alive". So, as it fitted with my plans and committments, off I went !
Martin and the churchwarden gave me a warm welcome at the lovely church of St Mary Magdelene, Great Elm ( more on the building in a few weeks time ) and I found my place in the Jacobean pews.
The service was Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer. Martin wore an alb, cincture and stole and the altar was set up with a veiled chalice and burse. The actual Communion rite was conducted facing East at the wall mounted altar.
The hymn book used was the New Anglican Hymns Old and New.
A congregation of about 40 gathered to the sound of the church bell peeling and the first hymn was When Morning gilds the Skies ( it was followed by Lord of All Hopefullness, Be Still for the Presence and Now Thank We All Our God ) The readings were from the lectionary and Martin used them as the basis for his sermon. He began by saying that he didn't agree with Martin Luther's opinion that the Epistle of St James was "strawy" Using the idea of this passage from St James, being about "doing good deeds" for the Lord, Martin focussed skillfully and engagingly on the exact opposite, on what we call "sins of ommission". He focussed on his own sins of omission rather than pointing out the congregation's failings ! These included "passing by on the other side" when passing someone who had broken down on the roadside, using "everyone's got a mobile" as a justification.
The prayers took a delightful form, when three ladies from the choir came to the front and did actions as Martin read St Patrick's breastplate.
Two notable members of the congregation stayed in the porch, and remained impeccably behaved. They were Martin's dog and the dog of the congregation members who live next door !
Martin said at the end of the service that he felt that the group was starting to really come together when they met for united worship and from what I saw yesterday, I agree.
It was great to see in the notices that the Group has organised a service on Thursday Morning to commemerate the evacuees who arrived in the area, 70 years ago this week.
Afterwards, there was coffee and homemade biscuits in the churchyard, in the light drizzle.
I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Mells Group. I look forward to seeing you at your church in the near future.