This was marked by Glasgow Churches Together (GCT) with a service at St. Mungo’s Townhead on 18th January. It was a cold , damp night but this did not prevent representatives from the constituent members of GCT and from a variety of Glasgow parishes coming together for the celebration. They were joined by members of the St. Mungo Singers.
During the opening hymn “We bless the God and Father of Jesus” (to the tune Christ be beside me), the church leaders: Archbishop Emeritus Conti, Rev. Tom Pollock, Major Russell Wyles, Rev. Karen Hendry, Dr. Laurence Whitley and Fr. David Wallace processed to the sanctuary. Fr. David then welcomed those present before the first part of the service began with the reading of prayers invoking the Holy Spirit, which finished with the singing of the very appropriate Taizé chant, “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, there is one God who is Father of all”
The second part of the service comprised Prayers of Reconciliation, each prayer followed by the singing of the penitential words “Kyrie (Christe) Eleison” – “Lord (Christ), have mercy”. The scripture readings for this year were Isaiah 55: 1-3, Psalm 144, 1Peter 2:9-10 and Matthew 5:1-16. They were preceded and ended with the call “Listen and you will live!”
Fr. Wallace gave the reflection, beginning with his recent experience, somewhat delayed, of baptising his new nephew. He invited the congregation to see something beautiful in the celebration of the rites of the different Christian traditions and to recognise what we have in common. We share faith and as the Gospel reading of the Beatitudes tells us we are “happy” or “blessed”.
He pointed out that we are also described as the salt of the earth – a very Glasgow expression and a good one for Christians as we are called to respond to each other’s need. We are also called to be the light of the world We are not to hide our faith but to live it. We must not lose the ability to be salt and light, but be proud to be showing our faith and to work together.
Appropriately the next part of the service called on those present to commit to be salt and light and everyone was invited to bring forward the candle which they had been provided with and to light it at the large St. Mungo candle on the sanctuary and to take a pinch of the salt from the bowl there.
The service ended with Prayers of Hope for our communities, our society and our world, finishing with the Lord’s prayer and a blessing by the church leaders. The Taizé chant was repeated as a fitting end to the service.