Rev Margaret Blake, pictured with fellow HBTSR members Hilary Ruston, Lesley Lilywhite, Blaze and Scarlett said: “Britain has taken in 350 children but the UK’s commitment extends to several hundred more who are still scattered across France in hostels. The vigil is to remember these children in our prayers and raise awareness that the government needs to take action.”
The festival also featured the Bethlehem Tree, an olive tree from Palestine which was decorated with carvings made by Palestinians. It symbolised the thousands of olive trees which were cut down for the construction of the separation wall in Bethlehem.
A group of about 25 people attended the candlelit vigil at Brecon Cathedral to remember both the displaced children from the Camp in Calais and also people seeking refuge everywhere. We were reminded that throughout history people have needed to flee and be welcomed to new lives in new countries. From the Bible we know Abraham, Moses and indeed Jesus all sought refuge. With a selection of readings, prayers and silence we remembered and hoped for good outcomes. We will present a copy of the inspiring readings and prayers to our MP who was unable to join us. We have an appointment in Builth on Friday at 10am to see him and whilst only 2 people will be allowed in it will be good to have a few supporters around to help show support.
12 December 2016 6.00 pm
Dedicated in honour of Saint John the Evangelist, Brecon Cathedral has been described by Richard Haslam in the Pevsner Architectural Guide for Powys as ‘pre-eminently the most splendid and dignified Church in Mid-Wales’. This ancient and holy site has been a centre of Christian worship for over a thousand years. Originally a Benedictine Priory and Parish Church it became the Cathedral of the newly created Diocese of Swansea and Brecon in 1923. As such, it is the seat of the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, and is the focus of unity for the Diocese, proclaiming the love of God made manifest in the person of Jesus Christ.
This Vigil is comprised of three sections, each focusing on the plight of refugees, beginning with children, moving onto families and then communities. Each section begins with a passage of scripture, a lit candle is brought forward and placed on the altar followed by a responsory and an extended period of silent prayer. A concluding collect brings each section to a close. Mirroring the worship of monks in this holy place (who sang a hymn in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary towards the end of their worship), after the third section follows the Litany of Mary of Nazareth (herself a victim of oppression and exiled in Egypt), concluding prayers, and the Lord’s Prayer. Members of the congregation will be invited to light their own candles at the end of the Vigil and leave them burning before the altar.
Grace and peace be with you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: And also with you.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we gather in prayer and witness for the plight of child refugees in France following the demolition of the Calais Jungle. Many are now increasingly isolated and fearful for the future. Committing these children and their families into the hands of Almighty God we pray for a generous response to this humanitarian crisis and for the gifts of hope, security and the love of their families this coming Christmastide.
As we hold before God the needs of his people let us call to mind our share in the sorrow of humanity and our failure to minister to those in need. Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. For the times we have allowed self interest and nationalism to overrule our heavenly citizenship and common humanity: Lord, have mercy.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. For the times we have failed to welcome the stranger in our midst and to work tirelessly for the vulnerable and displaced: Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. For the times we have failed in the fight for the rights of all children, including refugees and all who are voiceless. Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy on you and set you free from sin, strengthen you in goodness and keep you in eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Let us pray:
Almighty God, in whom all humanity finds its creation and preservation: grant us such shame and repentance for the disorder, injustice and cruelty towards child refugees and all in exile, that fleeing to you for pardon and grace we may henceforth set ourselves to establish that city which has justice for its foundation and love for its law, whereof you are the architect and maker; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
A reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
After the wise men had departed, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child to destroy him”. And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called my son”.
A candle, burning for the plight of all child refugees, is laid upon the altar
Priest: I called on the Lord in my distress: All: The Lord answered and set me free. Priest: It is better to take refuge in the Lord: All: Than to put any confidence in man. Priest: It is better to take refuge in the Lord: All: Than to put any confidence in princes. Priest: I called on the Lord in my distress: All: The Lord answered and set me free. A period of silent reflection follows followed by the concluding prayer
Priest: Lord of all life and power, you make all things new in Jesus Christ your Son: we pray child refugees’ uncertainties be stilled and the opportunities our nation can offer become apparent particularly for children arriving on their own; for all that our country and communities can do, let us play our part in answering our prayer; through him who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever. Amen.
A reading from the book Genesis
The LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram took his wife Sarai and his brother’s son Lot, and all the possessions that they had gathered, and the persons whom they had acquired in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the LORD appeared to Abram, and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. From there he moved on to the hill country on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the LORD and invoked the name of the LORD. And Abram journeyed on by stages toward the Negeb.
I called on the Lord in my distress:
The Lord answered and set me free.
They went astray in the wilderness:
And found no city to dwell in.
Hungry and thirsty:Their soul fainted within them
I called on the Lord in my distress:
The Lord answered and set me free.
A period of silent reflection follows followed by the concluding prayer. Loving God, who as Father, Son and Holy Spirit dwells in the familial relationship of the Trinity: we pray for all families taken from their homes, those parted from each other, those seeking new hopes and new beginnings; may our communion with Christ and with each other awaken in us a longing for justice that all peoples may live in harmony, be united in your love and guided by your truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A reading from the book Exodus
Moses was staying with Reuel, who gave Moses his daughter Zipporah in marriage. She bore a son, and he named him Gershom; for he said, “I have been an alien residing in a foreign land.” After a long time the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned under their slavery, and cried out. Out of the slavery their cry for help rose up to God. God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God looked upon the Israelites, and God took notice of them. Then the LORD said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”
A candle, burning for all refugee communities and nations, is laid upon the altar
Priest: I called on the Lord in my distress: All: The Lord answered and set me free. Priest: Nevertheless, when he saw their adversity: All: The Lord heard their complaint. Priest: He thought upon his covenant and pitied them: All: According to the multitude of their mercies. Priest: I called on the Lord in my distress: All: The Lord answered and set me free.
A period of silent reflection follows followed by the concluding prayer
Priest:God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, father of all peoples and nations: we pray for all communities and races suffering injustice and displacement; help us to stand with the persecuted and reviled, to stand for the cause of right that in all things love and truth may defeat hatred and oppression and all people find true freedom as your children; through Jesus Christ our brother and friend. Amen.
Glory to you, God of our Creator:
Breath into us new life, new meaning.
Glory to you, God our Saviour:
Lead us in the way of peace and justice.
Glory to you, God, healing Spirit:
Transform us to empower others.
Mary, wellspring of peace:
Be our guide.
Model of strength:
Be our guide. Model of gentleness: Be our guide. Model of trust: Be our guide. Model of courage: Be our guide.Priest: Model of patience: All: Be our guide. Priest: Model of risk: All: Be our guide. Priest: Model of openness: All: Be our guide. Priest: Model of perseverance: All: Be our guide.
Priest: Mother of the liberator: All: Pray for us. Priest: Mother of the homeless: All: Pray for us.
Priest: Mother of the dying: All: Pray for us. Priest: Mother of the nonviolent: All: Pray for us.
Priest: Widowed mother: All: Pray for us. Priest: Unwed mother: All: Pray for us.
Priest: Mother of political prisoner: All: Pray for us. Priest: Mother of the condemned: All: Pray for us.
Priest: Mother of an executed criminal: All: Pray for us.
Priest: Oppressed woman: All: Lead us to life. Priest: Liberator of the oppressed: All: Lead us to life. Priest: Marginalized woman: All: Lead us to life. Priest: Comforter of the afflicted: All: Lead us to life. Priest: Cause of our joy: All: Lead us to life. Priest: Sign of contradiction: All: Lead us to life. Priest: Breaker of bondage: All: Lead us to life.Priest: Political refugee: All: Lead us to life. Priest: Seeker of sanctuary: All: Lead us to life. Priest: First disciple:
All: Lead us to life. Priest: Sharer in Christ’s ministry: All: Lead us to life. Priest: Participant in Christ’s passion: All: Lead us to life. Priest: Seeker of God’s will: All: Lead us to life. Priest: Witness to Christ’s resurrection: All: Lead us to life.
Priest: Woman of mercy: All: Empower us. Priest: Woman of faith: All: Empower us. Priest: Woman of contemplation: All: Empower us.
Priest: Woman of vision: All: Empower us. Priest: Woman of wisdom and understanding: All: Empower us. Priest: Woman of grace and truth: All: Empower us. Priest: Woman, pregnant with hope: All: Empower us. Priest: Woman, centred in God: All: Empower us.
Priest: God of compassion, protect children separated from their families and all who find themselves vulnerable and afraid; strengthened in faith may we place our trust in your will and wisdom that your people may be encouraged and built up. Your kingdom come:
All: Your will be done.
Priest: God of hope, help us to see all people created in your image and likeness; forgive self interested nationalism to overrule our heavenly citizenship and our God given humanity and stir our hearts to be generous and compassionate. Your kingdom come:
All: You will be done.
Priest: God of justice, guide leaders and nations as they make decisions about child refugees and asylum seekers; thank you for those who work tirelessly to welcome children and vulnerable people into our communities and grant to all your people love, patience and justice. Your kingdom come:
All: Your will be done.
Priest: As we pray for the fulfilment of God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, let us pray as our Saviour has taught us:
All: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
All: God, no one is a stranger to you. In your kindness look with mercy on those who today are fleeing from danger. Watch over migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, those separated from their
loved ones, those who are lost and those who have been exiled from their homes. Bring them safely to the place where they long to be, and help us always to show your kindness to strangers and
those in need. Bless the work of those seeking to bring them relief. Awaken compassion and urgency in governments and all whose decision making can make a difference and guide the
nations of the world towards that day when all will rejoice in your Kingdom of justice and of peace; we ask this through him, who too was a refugee and migrant who travelled to another land searching for a home, the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
On leaving the Chapel, the congregation is invited to light their own candles and leave them
burning in the pricket stand in front of the altar.
The Bible quotations contained herein are from The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible © 1989 [NRSV] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Extracts from The Book of Common Prayer, are reproduced by permission of the Crown’s Patentee, Cambridge University Press. All hymn texts are reproduced under CCLI No: 261518 within the terms of copyright for use within the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Evangelist in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon.