This morning we returned to Mary Ann’s roots by visiting Chelsea Methodist Church. This was the church attended by Mary Ann’s mother when she lived and worked in Chelsea some 25 years ago and it was therefore the first Methodist Church that Mary Ann attended in the UK.
Although there has been a Methodist Church on this site since 1903, the original sanctuary was destroyed by wartime bombing. The remaining rooms were extensively redeveloped in the 1980s to form one of the most distinctive Methodist chapels (and to my mind, one of the most attractive). Entrance is gained through a short passage from a doorway in the Kings Road which opens into the Narthex, a stone flag floored meeting place which is open every day of the week. From the Narthex one descends two or three steps into the sanctuary, which is a square room lit entirely from above. The walls are painted with distinctive murals in attractive shades of blue, with the kneelers and even the Communionware in coordinating colours and motifs.
This morning’s worship was a service of Holy Communion led by the minister Revd Michael Sawyer, assisted by Mr Edmund Addu, who preached the sermon. The service began with a liturgy for Advent with four candles (representing the people of the North, South, East and West) placed on a striking display centred on a painting of The Visitation by Chinese artist He Qi. The remainder of the service was a fairly traditional Methodist Communion service with hymns appropriate for Advent Sunday, including ‘Come, thou long-expected Jesus’, ‘Lo, he comes with clouds descending’ and ‘O come, O come Emmanuel’. Singing was supported by a small but hard working choir and an excellent pianist/organist.
Mr Addu’s sermon began with the lectionary texts (Isaiah 2:1-5 and Matthew 24:36-44) but developed into a more general Advent sermon emphasising the traditional Advent themes of watching and waiting for the coming of Christ. He used what I thought was a very effective image of an Underground train. Just as passengers on a station platform have a single purpose, which is to wait for the next coming train, so Christians are to be as single minded in waiting for the coming of Christ. This illustration was developed throughout the sermon, so we were given the powerful image of the light of the tube train shining out of the darkness (echoing the closing words of the Old Testament reading ‘Let us walk in the light of the Lord’.) An encouraging and challenging sermon, and an excellent start to the season of Advent.
It was good to worship and fellowship with the congregation of Chelsea Methodist Church.