How can one describe a weekend like the one we have just experienced. Most of it was superb, the only thing putting a damper on things was the weather. Snow on both Saturday and Sunday was, at best, a nuisance keeping some people at home when they would have loved to be at the meetings. We are, of course, referring to the visit of the International Staff Songsters which lived up to expectations despite a fair amount of white precipitation.
For the sake of not taking too big a mouthful all at once we will deal first with the events on Sunday and will catch up with Saturday tomorrow.
Anticipating the worst, after the difficulties experienced by some in getting home from the Saturday concert, we awoke to find that it had not snowed through the night after all and, as a result, there was a good attendance at the morning meeting. The Young People’s Band and Singing Company were given the role of music ministers and we must congratulate both on the excellent job they did, especially the Young People’s Band which had to cope with accompanying a five verse song with no breaks to rest the lips. Well done all!
The contributions to the worship from the Staff Songsters was, as usual, superb beginning with the lovely ‘All for Thee’ followed by the ladies voices with ‘You are always there’.
Executive Officer Lt. Col. Paul Main spent some time with the younger members of the congregation speaking about the contrast in weather and temperatures he was expecting to feel in his next appointment (Jamaica). He went on to ask the children about their favourite foods (once again Pizza and Chocolate featured strongly and to stress the importance of healthy food, especially of the spiritual kind examples of which he gave as prayer, scripture and worship, amongst others.
Scripture was read from John 15:1-17 and Cliff Matthews gave a testimony conducted in interview mode by Lt. Col. Paul. He emphasised his view that the spirit of God had always been there throughout his life and encouraged us to consistent in our faith. The Staff Songsters sang ‘Moment by moment’ before Lt. Col. Paul brought his message, speaking about how we should spend our lives ‘abiding in Christ’, good spiritual food being essential for this purpose if we are to become the people we are meant to be.
The Songsters concluded the worship with ‘A Choral Symphony’ (movements 2 and 3), one of three major works under this title written by accompanist Richard Phillips who grew up as a child here in Chatham.
Another Richard Phillips arrangement of words by Malcolm Westwood, ‘He is Risen! from Anastasis’ followed by the beautiful ‘Bow the knee” opened the late afternoon time of praise. This meeting was cut short by the weather as further snow had started falling about one hour before the scheduled start time clearly acting as a deterrent to some people who might otherwise have attended.
‘Go tell it on t he mountain’ and ‘Choral Symphony No 3’ were beautifully performed before Chatham Songsters sang the robust song ‘Our God’ and Emma-Joy Owen brought a lovely solo item, charming the audience with her delightful voice.
Chatham Band, which had brought two exciting marches before the meeting had started, offered ‘Salvation’s Song’ as its contribution. The Staff Songsters gave us ‘Light Released’ and ‘Someone Cares’ before joining with Chatham Songsters to bring ‘One Voice’ with soloists Emma Davis, Ruth and Paul Woodhouse and Martin Davis taking the lead parts.
The International Staff Songsters suitably brought the weekend to a close with ‘God we will give you glory’.
This was an exceptionally fine day during which we saw a number of people who do not normally worship with us. We pray that they may have been blessed by what they heard and saw and will want to return again and worship with us.
By the time this post is published we hope that all the Staff Songsters will have arrived home safely despite the adverse travelling conditions in some parts of the country. We thank them for their commitment and service and wish them well in all their upcoming engagements.