It was sheer delight to watch our little granddaughter blowing out her birthday candles last Sunday afternoon. There were more than the four candles that would have reflected her age because each candle spelt out a letter of ‘Happy Birthday’. The look on her face when the Peppa Pig cake with all the candles alight was brought into the darkened room and everyone started singing happy birthday was an absolute picture of happiness. The present opening had taken a long time as she examined each package before opening it and then savoured the moment as she carefully unwrapped it, each toy had to be taken out of its packaging a played with a bit before she would open the next one. This might have been due to the fact that her 2 year old cousin was there and also likes Peppa Pig. It was hard to explain to him that these new toys belonged to the birthday girl but she was very gracious and allowed him to play with them in the sure and certain knowledge that she was going to take them all home where she would have them all to herself.
It was a real celebration and we need to celebrate sometimes don’t we? We need to stop and give thanks for life. So we celebrate, birthdays, anniversaries, wedding, the birth of children, and someone’s life when they die. In fact any excuse will do. It’s right and proper to remember that life is a gift especially when we so often get bogged down with more demanding things.
On the second Sunday in October Wesley Hall celebrated her 107th Birthday. She has become over the years a grand old lady.
The building remains solid, durable and imposing, well looked after and loved. It may not be modern or even particularly practical but it’s our place and there are many memories. Imagine, there have been 107 Christmases and Easters, Harvests, Pentecost’s, hundreds of baptisms, many weddings including some of yours reading this today. There have been many comings and goings, many different phases of our life in this place, generations have come and gone but always God has been worshipped, people have been cared for and for much of that time young people have been nurtured in Girl’s and Boys Brigade. There is so much to celebrate, so much to remember and give thanks for.
Have you ever seen the old film of the ‘Time Machine’ based on the original story by HG Wells, written in 1895? In it the hero sits in his time machine by a window and as time passes he sees the changes that come about. I find myself wondering about the changes that Wesley Hall has seen in its lifetime. As they say, if Wesley Hall could talk it would have quite a story to tell. Starting in the days before cars, mobile phones (or any sort of phone) aeroplanes, televisions (I could go on and on), the changes in the last 107 years have been phenomenal and yet during that time Wesley Hall has stood as a proud monument to the unchanging story of Jesus of Nazareth and his relationship with God. ‘Tell me the old, old story we sing’ – it may be an old, old story but it’s also new in every generation as we find ways of communicating the ‘Never ending Story’ to a rapidly changing world.
Externally Wesley Hall hasn’t changed very much but the congregation has changed a great deal. We have been blessed with diversity. It may be smaller but it is just as vibrant as it was all those years ago when those pioneers set about building a church for the people called Methodists in Lower Sydenham.
So this month we celebrate as we consider the legacy we have inherited and the treasure that we have at Wesley Hall in our faith and in each other.