Celebrating 30 years of
First Steps to Worship!
This week we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of First Steps to Worship with a praise and worship service led by Sharon Jones starting at 10am.
We will be welcoming members past and present at our service. If you would like to join us please contact The First Steps to Worship Facebook page for details of the Zoom meeting
Sharon asks that you have a candle ready to light together at the end of the service when we shall sing ‘happy birthday’ and if you wish a celebratory cake!
Matthew 7:24 – 27
Hearers and Doers
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”
I cannot believe that First Steps to Worship has actually been running for 30 years. The time has simply flown by and this friendly happy little group continues using exactly the same format as it did all those years ago when Curate Rev Dorothy Bellamy started it in 1990.
We are still using the same shakers too, they have been recovered. A bottle of wine and tacky back plastic can make for a jolly evening when you have been at home all day with a toddler.
First Steps is really about sowing not reaping. We may never know how that seed of faith develops, that’s up to God. It is just our job to plant it. It is about being a safe space to make friends, support each other in life, and in our faith.
Over the years after Dorothy left, we have been supported by David Hill, a Lay minister and Malcolm Freeman, a non-stipendiary minister as well as being encouraged by the various incumbents. The Mother’s Union have continued to support us, we couldn’t manage without Jean and Hilary’s dedication. Nor could we manage without Peter’s excellent guitar skills. He has been playing for us for about 23 years.
The numbers fluctuate and sometimes when they are low Peter and I look at each other and think is it time to call it a day. Then we shake our heads and say ‘no let’s keep it going’. Taking another step in our own faith. That’s when we have new arrivals or the return of familiar faces and we know we were right to carry on.
When the group first started people would say ‘What’s the point of First Steps. We don’t see them on a Sunday?’ But now they realise that First Steps is church in it’s own right just like the mid-week communion.
Our First Steps family is forever changing as children grow up and move on to ‘big school’. Some families return with new babies, and others we never see again. This doesn’t worry me as I know that we were there for them at that point in their life when they needed us.
When I was asked to choose a story for the reading for today without hesitation, I picked the ‘House on the Rock’. This story sums up the purpose of First Steps so nicely as I truly believe we are laying the foundation stones of faith. Something solid and reassuring that can be returned to throughout our lives.
We are like the tide, coming and going. We may not always feel close to God and the flotsam and jetsam of life can get in the way. But God is always there, our rock.
Being comfortable in church is important for children. Knowing that the church is a friendly, welcoming place to be in from such an early age means that if we do drift we will not be scared of going back. God remains constant and we can always, always get back to him.
You may wonder how being at First Steps affects the children. Well I can tell you I have had conversations about ‘life and death and ladybirds’ with a 4 year old and all before 9.45am.
Many years ago, a 2 year old boy who had been brought along by his child minder was holidaying in France with his family. As they visited a cathedral he shouted ‘Amen’ at the top of his voice all the way round. Much to the amusement of his parents and onlookers. He knew he was in church and in church you shout Amen!
More recently one of the little boys was seen on his baby monitor lying in bed singing ’I will make you fishers of men’ in the middle of the night.
Who knows how many young lives, thanks to their families and carers bringing them along, will be given the blessing of that spark of faith, that rock that will help them on life’s journey?
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New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.