The third annual ecumenical Pause for Hope service for all people affected by cancer took place in Our Lady of Lourdes parish on 12 September and was jointly supported by Glasgow Churches Together (GCT) and the Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice, whose new premises are in nearby Bellahouston Park. Over one hundred people joined representatives of GCT and the Hospice for the service, with the music supported by the St Mungo Singers.
On their arrival in the church, members of the congregation were given a card and invited, before the service began, by Rev. Chris Foxon, Chair of GCT, to write on it the names of people they wished to pray for. Fr David Wallace, parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes, then welcomed the congregation after the opening hymn.
He described the service as so important for people affected by cancer. It was an opportunity to be together and to pray. He invited them to come forward with their cards, to put them in a basket and to light a candle and place it in front of the altar. He explained that the people named on the cards would be remembered in prayer over the coming year.
It was an affecting ceremony, seeing so many people coming forward to light candles for those they were holding in their prayers, and in a way it served to bind the congregation together in their concerns. Fr. David then led a beautiful prayer over the candle stand, now filled with candles.
The scripture readings which followed – Psalm 45 (46), Psalm 115 (116); Ephesians 3:14-21 and Matthew 6:25-32 – encouraged those present to think of the faithfulness and the love of God for all his children. Rev. Leslie Edge, chaplain to the Hospice, took up this theme in his homily.
He recalled that he had once been asked by someone in the hospice to choose his favourite verse from scripture. His choice, he said, had been Deuteronomy 31:8, a verse for all seasons of life-
“The Lord himself will lead you, he will be with you; he will not fail you or desert you. Have no fear, do not be disheartened by anything”.
This verse tells us that the Lord himself goes by our side, facing everything with us and leads the way like a shepherd, not a cattledriver. The Lord will be with you always, Rev. Leslie said, walking at your pace, and will never leave you or let you down. God says in the Song of Songs “You have stolen my heart” and he loves us. This uplifting homily was followed by the reading of a beautiful poem by Lyn McCrave “Hebridean Retreat” and harp music played by Dr Noel Donnelly.
An insight into the work of the Hospice was given by Gillian Sherwood, Director of Clinical Services at the Hospice, whose enthusiasm for the new building and its services was clear, as she described the bedrooms and the facilities they offered to allow families to stay with their loved ones, the layout of the bedrooms which were centred round a social area to reduce any sense of isolation, the involvement of other charities who work with those affected by cancer and the development of access for patients to Bellahouston Park.
In the final section of the service, a collection was taken up for the Hospice, to go towards the cost of a specially adapted complementary therapy couch which would allow those with profound physical disabilities to access the same service as other patients. Prayers of intercession followed for all those affected by cancer (patients, families and carers) and those working with them and for them.
The service finished with the praying of the Our Father, and the lovely Pause for Hope Prayer:-
God our Father,
We pray that cancer will not cripple love
Will not shatter hope, will not corrode faith
Will not eat away peace, will not destroy confidence
Will not kill friendship, will not shut out memories
Will not silence courage, will not invade the soul
We believe that cancer cannot reduce eternal life
Quench the spirit, or lessen the power of the Resurrection.
The choir sang an evening blessing “Lord, keep us safe this night” before the clergy present blessed the congregation. Then all were invited to come to the parish hall and enjoy the warm hospitality of the parish who provided a great spread and an opportunity for people to talk.