We’re flying tomorrow and I’m still suffering from a cold, so decided to take it easy this morning and attend a church within walking distance of our house.
Camden Road Baptist Church is a member of the Upper Holloway Fellowship of Churches (which I presently chair) and I know the pastor, Revd Brian Wightwick, fairly well. I wasn’t sure who was preaching, but was pleased to find when I got there that it was Brian.
There has been a church on this site for over 150 years. Although the main chapel still stands on Camden Road, it is no longer owned by the church and the congregation now meets for worship in the former school hall, with an entrance on Hilldrop Road. I have worshipped there before at ecumenical events, but this was the first time I had attended morning worship. The building suits the size of the present congregation – I would guess there were about 35 there – but I have to confess that the sanctuary is a little too ‘busy’ for my taste, with a variety of posters, pot plants and no less than three lecterns/reading desks. I prefer simple, uncluttered worship spaces.
The service would be very familiar to most Methodists, with a lectionary-based, traditional ‘hymn sandwich’ format – in fact we could have been in a Methodist church. We sang a mixture of old and new(ish) hymns and songs from Mission Praise, accompanied by a piano/keyboard. The service had a strongly Advent flavour. It was also their ‘Gift Service’. Not a great deal of this was made in the service itself, although there was quite a stack of bags and packages containing gifts for the Upper Holloway Drop In and for health visitors to give to local families.
The highlight (excuse the pun) of the service for me was the lighting of the Advent Candles, because Brian asked if I would come forward to light them. (I never get to light Advent Candles!)
Brian preached from the Gospel reading, Matthew 3:1-12, which tells of the ministry of John the Baptist. He particularly focused on verses 1-3 and the importance of preparing ‘a way for the Lord’, well illustrated by the experience of the past few days of snowploughs and gritters clearing a path through snow. And the sermon did just that – helping each of us to prepare a way for the Lord to come into our lives and minister to our hearts.