Led by Dominie Burton
Sunday 3rd January 2021
As I enter into prayer today, I rest for a moment in the confidence that – whatever may seem wrong with the world, or with me, or my life – God’s love redeems it all.
The Lord has visited his people and redeemed them.
Wait for the Lord, whose day is near. Wait for the Lord, be strong take heart.
Veni Sancté Spiritu
As we come to the beginning of a new year, let us hope that it is better than last. Being in lockdown and not being able to travel to see family and friends has been a challenge for everyone. It is a stark contrast to a New Year I enjoyed thirty years ago.
Thirty years ago this weekend I travelled back from Wroclaw in Poland. I had been to Taizé’s international meeting. Each year, on December 27 most of the brothers leave Taizé and go to a different European city where thousands of young people gather from all over Europe.
In 1989 communism was collapsing all round Europe, in the November The Berlin Wall had come down leading to freedom of movement for many people for the first time in many years. At the beginning of November about 10,000 people were booked to join the Taizé meeting. By 27 December the line of buses queuing to cross the border took seven hours, and that was just at one crossing.
Over 50,000 people converged on Wroclaw. We were all welcomed into homes by families starved of visitors by communism. We each had a bed to sleep in. Some visitors were ‘kidnapped’ by people who had not been allocated a visitor but who desperately wanted a visitor. And even with all these visitors a place was still laid at table for the ‘uninvited, stranger, Elijah’ that may just happen to drop by.
We were issued with a bus pass, a map and a timetable with a list of venues. To get to our destinations all we needed to do was to stand on a street corner with the map and someone would come, interpret the maps and timetable and go out of their way to deliver us safely.
For four days we met, prayed, studied the bible, discussed. We enjoyed visiting the city. We had been told to take coffee and chocolate as host gifts as these ere very difficult to get. This surprised us because there seemed to be plenty of coffee in the shops, then we realised that coffee was available but it was about £1 an ounce, or, to put it another way, one day’s wage for an ounce of coffee. There were three of us staying with our family. The coffee and chocolates we had taken must have totalled in value to nearly six month’s wages. When we left we hid the gifts so that the family would find them after we had left.
The influx of all these people must have been similar to the influx of people to Bethlehem all those years ago. Hopefully, with just as warm a welcome.
What have we gained from last year, and what will we take forward on our Christian Journey?
See, I am near, says the Lord. See, I make all things new.
Nothing can ever come between us and the love of God. The love of God revealed to us in Christ Jesus.
The Magi Visit the Messiah
2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’[b]”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Adoramus te Christe
We adore you, Jesus Christ, And we bless your Holy Name,
Truly your cross and passion, brings us life and healing.
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked advance against me
to devour[a] me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
4 One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
7 Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
God my Saviour.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
spouting malicious accusations.
13 I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
O Lord hear my prayer, O Lord hear my prayer
When I call answer me.
O Lord hear my prayer, O Lord hear my prayer,
Come and listen to me
When in prayer, human language cannot express well what it is we have deep within ourselves. We do not need to worry. In a prayer made of silence only –
We rest in God,
With the body,
With the soul,
With the spirit.
Mary did you know
Not a Taizé song, but one of my favourites!
The Blessing (UK)