The weather was good, perhaps too good, and there were the competing attractions of the World Cup and Father’s Day, so numbers attending were affected, but it was still a great service – warm, enthusiastic and a real celebration of Glasgow as a welcoming host city to visitors. This year the focus was on the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
Piper Willie Park played in welcome at the entrance of the City Chambers. In the Banqueting Hall, the Rutherglen Salvation Army Band provided more music, and the congregation were presented with copies of the Penny Gospel produced for the Games as they arrived. Additional musical support was provided for the service itself by members of the St. Mungo Singers and the East End Deanery choir, organist Jane McKenna, and instrumentalists Carissa Bovill, John Allan, Monica Dyer, Annette McKirdie, Pauline McNicol, Ann Marie Berrie and Donald MacInnes.
To begin the service, the piper led in the civic and church leaders to the tune of Highland Cathedral, which was taken up by the congregation as they sang “God our Creator” – words set by Br. Stephen Smyth to this tune. This opening hymn was very appropriate for the day – Trinity Sunday as well as Father’s Day – as its words reflected on God the Father and the other Persons of the Trinity.
After the opening prayer by Mgr. Paul Conroy, Baillie John McLaughlin, representing the Lord Provost, welcomed everyone to the service. He noted that it was only 6 weeks now to the Commonwealth Games and even the London media had recognised this fact! The city was looking forward not only to some Scottish winners, but to inspiring stories, and to welcoming the athletes, spectators and visitors. The Welcoming City service, he said, was a great joint venture between the churches and the city, and he prayed that it would continue to flourish.
The first reading which followed continued the theme of the Games, being the well known excerpt from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians (9: 24-27) in which he reminds them of the prize for which they are striving. The next hymn (The Church is wherever God’s People are Praising) was a reminder to us all of what the Church is and what its members should be known for – including reaching out to people wherever they are.
After the Gospel reading (Luke 11: 1-13), the Moderator of Glasgow Presbytery, Rev. Dr. David Sinclair, in his reflection, mused on the tricky aspect of prayer – we might get what we ask for and then what do we do with it! The Gospel passage was about Jesus teaching his apostles how to pray. Dr. Sinclair said that for athletes it must be difficult to decide what to pray for and when. So much about their lives as athletes is about them and their needs if they are to be successful. The top athletes realise that there must be more to life, because when you win, the question is “What now?”. When the Commonwealth Games start, we will be welcoming people to our city as people first and foremost. And after the Games we are called to continue to be a welcoming city.
In a change of tempo, young Cara Conway of the Southside Fiddlers played for the congregation, and we could not help but clap along with her lively playing. Returning to the Commonwealth Games theme, Carissa Bovill led the singing of Frank O’Hagan’s song for the Games “The Commonwealth for the Common Good.”
The Intercessions, read by representatives of the different churches and of More than Gold, also reflected the Commonwealth Games theme – praying: that young people might be inspired to find and develop their gifts; for all involved in the Games and all attending them; that the governments of the Commonwealth would work together to support each other; that the Penny Gospel would help us to live according to the generous Good News of Christ and dispose us to see that generosity in the lives of others. After each intercession, the refrain from the Taizé “There is One Lord” was sung, and at the end the choirs led the congregation in singing the verses.
The tempo and tone changed again now as the children from St. Monica’s Primary in Milton sang a song written in Scots by Liz Bovill for the Games “Failte tae the Games” to the traditional tune “Duncan Gray”. Their obvious enthusiasm and energy had everyone smiling, as they sang with appropriate gestures the words of this lively song.
The service ended with the singing of the Lord’s Prayer, Handel’s “Father, Give us thy Grace”, the blessing by the church representatives and the final hymn “O Day of Peace” which was sung with especial feeling at this time of such violence in so many countries.
After the service, the City Council provided their usual warm hospitality while the Salvation Army Band played as the congregation made its way into the adjoining rooms where the children of the Southside Fiddlers welcomed them with lively music.