Morning worship, Sunday 09 June 2013, 11am
Led by: Deacon Belinda Letby
Preacher: Rev Eric Potts
I commented a few weeks ago on the great church building reshuffle that’s been going on in Edinburgh recently, including the sale of Methodist Central Hall. I don’t know what the Central Hall congregation had shrunk to by the time they decided to sell up, but Methodist numbers must be dwindling all over town, because the building in Nicolson Square wasn’t exactly bursting at the seams this morning.
It would have been an impressive interior at one time, but it’s sacrificed much of its charm to years of white gloss painting, and the upstairs gallery is a storage space for stacking chairs and old Christmas trees. It also boasts the least comfortable pews yet encountered on my mission.
But it does have a fantastic little choir, all nine of them, who belted out a rip-roaring gospel anthem, Ev’ry time I feel the spirit, and provided harmonies for all the hymns, opening with Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation, and rounding off with Charles Wesley’s own O, for a thousand tongues—seven glorious verses to the tune of Lyngham, one of my personal favourites.
The sermon, or more correctly “the message”, was delivered by Rev Eric Potts and divided into two parts, each following the relevant reading. 1 Kings 17:17-24 and Luke 7:11-17 both recount miracles of a dead son being restored to a widowed mother. Potts twice called Elijah “Isaiah” by mistake, but he can be forgiven that slip of the tongue since he imparted so much else that was of interest—a comparison between Mary Queen of Scots and Jezebel, for instance, and an explanation of the use in this and other passages of Luke’s of the word εσπλαγχνισθη, whose rendering into English as “his heart went out to her” or “he had compassion for her” apparently fails to convey the full import of the sentiment. The other two passages are the parable of the good Samaritan and that of the prodigal son – yet another lost/dead son restored, in keeping with the theme. I bow to Potts’s superior knowledge. It’s nice to learn something from a sermon.
Would I go back? For the singing, yes. It’s right up there with the Salvation Army and St Columba’s by the Castle on the music front ... and I should have mentioned that there's an organ. And I’m tempted by the prospect of hearing one Rev John Knox (yes, really) lead next week’s service. But there are lots more churches to get round, so for the meantime I’ll award a generous mark to the Methodists and move on.