Over the last 18 months, we have perhaps lost sight of the other illnesses which previously loomed so large for people. However the return of the Pause for Hope service – a service for those affected by cancer directly or indirectly – on 7 October reminded us that diseases such as cancer did not come to a halt because of the pandemic.
The service was held in Our Lady of Lourdes parish and organised by Glasgow Churches Together (GCT). Music for the liturgy was provided by the St Mungo Singers, for whom the event had a particular poignancy, as three of their members – Mrs Mary Bradley, Peter McBride and Mrs Kathleen Gibson – had died of cancer during the period since March 2020.
Inevitably there had to be some changes in the format of the service due to Covid restrictions but there was a feeling of peace and prayerfulness throughout the church as those present remembered family or friends lost to or living with the disease.
A lovely prayer* at the beginning of the service, as candles were lit for those we prayed for, voiced the thoughts of the congregation, and there was comfort in the last line of the first reading from Psalm 45/46 “Be still and know that I am God”. That theme continued in the psalm that was sung – Psalm115: I will walk in the presence of God, and the Gospel reading from Matthew 6:25-32 with its refrain of “do not worry”.
In his reflection, Canon David Wallace said that the title of the service was exactly right. We have all of us been affected by cancer in some way and we need to pause, we need hope. Remembering his journey with his own father in illness, they had travelled in hope, either hope of an improvement or hope of life after.
He reflected that the readings remind us that God is hope, and in the New Testament the phrase “do not be afraid” is found 365 times. We need to allow God’s word to come to life in and for us.
At the beginning of the service, the congregation had been given little cards o which to write on the names of loved ones, living or dead, who had been affected by cancer, and these were placed before the altar and will remain in the church to be kept in the prayers of the community throughout the year.
At the end of the service, after prayers of intercession for all affected by cancer, their carers and for cancer research, the Pause for Hope prayer was said. As the congregation left the church, there was an opportunity to donate to the collection which this year was for the Children’s Hospice Robin House, Balloch.
*God, our loving Father,
The candles we have lit represent each and every one of us whose lives have been touched and changed forever by cancer.
Their light also reminds us of Jesus Christ, your Son, who is the light of the world and the light in our darkness.
Give us, we pray, comfort in our anxiety and fear, courage and strength in our suffering, patience and compassion in our caring, consolation in our grieving, but above all, give us hope, now and always, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.