Our morning meeting was led by Major Ian and focused on the story of Jonah.
Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh
Sunday morning worship at the corps is a place where all are welcome and, regardless of what has happened in the previous week, all can meet with God and spend time in prayer and worship. This Sunday, our meeting began with a reminder of this as the band played a call to worship ‘I can think of Him’ (Joy Webb), concluding with the line ‘In my brightest day, or my darkest way, I can think of Him in prayer.’ Shout Aloud Salvation (SASB 976) and My Jesus, My Saviour (SASB 264) were our opening songs, before members of the congregation spoke prayers of thankfulness for all God is and does. The Singing Company then reminded us where guidance can come from throughout life in echoing the words of Psalm 119 in the song ‘Sanctify Us!’ – ‘Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path’. Stanley Dittmer’s reassuring words ‘I’m in His Hands’ (SASB 848) were sung prayerfully before the Songsters brought a newer setting of our opening song, ‘March On!’.
In today’s message from scripture, Major Ian reminded us that nothing is impossible for God, using the story of Jonah as an illustration. Jonah lived in a challenging time during the reign of Jeroboam, yet he did not initially respond to the call of God and was fearful about what was going on. When God speaks to us and calls us to do something, often the easiest option is to go in the opposite direction – just as Jonah boarded a ship bound for Joppa, in the opposite direction to Nineveh, where the Lord had commanded him to go. ‘How often are we in the middle of a storm – and God is the answer?’ When we make mistakes and find ourselves in a storm, we can do nothing else but call out to God.
But Jonah had a second chance to answer God’s call to go to Nineveh – our God is a God who forgives. We are never fully free until we believe that God has forgiven us – until we have put our sin in the deepest sea and left it there. Although we are unlikely to be eaten by a fish any time soon(!), God still calls each of us now, as he did Jonah.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations.
Forgotten Heroes: Voluntary Aid Detachment
Our second gathering of the day took a more unusual format. The Band presented ‘Be Glad’ and ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ (based on Psalm 23) and the Songsters sang a Chopin Prelude, including a prayer by Envoy Tony McClure, and ‘One Voice’. First World War poems ‘Perhaps’ (Vera Brittain) and ‘Women Demobilised’ (May Wedderburn Cannan) were read by Jean Jones and Major Judith Payne respectively.
We were then introduced to John Drewry and Sonja Curtis who gave a presentation on the history of the Voluntary Aid Detachment – a unit of civilian, amateur nurses which reached its peak of activity in the First World War and has received little official recognition since, until a permanent memorial to the nurses was unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum in 2018. The talk was aided by Eunice who, dressed in a specially-commissioned replica VAD uniform, read poetry and extracts from VAD members’ diaries. The group remain involved in supporting the training of nurses today and the uncovering and commemoration of the history of the VAD.
More information about their work can be found at www.nursingmemorialappeal.org