‘To be a pilgrim’
After a fruitful brainstorming session, the small planning group of Guilsfield MU Members, decided upon ‘pilgrimage’ as the appropriate and challenging them for the Deanery Festival this year.
Centred upon the account of Abram’s call to leave his homeland, ( Genesis 12:1-7) taking his family and all his possessions, and trustingly following God’s mysterious guidance until he finally reached the land of Canaan, the service focused upon our own Christian journey. Greeting all in the porch, was a very life-like ‘pilgrim’ model, warmly clad from head to foot – a foretaste of what was to come!
On entering the church, all were given a small pilgrimage stone, and their service sheets. The chancel looked magnificent, filled with each parish’s MU Banner proudly displayed on their individual stands. Our vicar led the service and the address was given by the MU Diocesan Chaplain, who also read a series of short reflective narratives on various aspects of journeying in faith with God. The organist was Joan Upton Holder. And so, following the Canticles, we were all invited to stand and face the font and to renew our Baptismal Vows – thus reminding us of the start of our own faith journey. Following this, we reflected on the pilgrim’s need for food for the journey – to sustain and to strengthen us; bread and wine were brought forward into the chancel – and we gave thanks for the sacramental nourishment that unites and transforms us throughout our lives. Following this, we reflected upon the various stopping places on our journey, and a small cairn of stones was then built in the chancel, as each member brought her pilgrim’s stone and added it to the growing mound of similar stones. While this was being done, the singing group made up of members of the Guilsfield branch of the Mothers’ Union sang a selection of hymns and psalm settings, including music by Taize, Margaret Rizza, Stuart Townend and the Iona Community. Prayers, on the theme of journeying were then led by Kathleen Somerville, interspersed by the Taize Chant, ‘Confitemini Domino.’
The vicar then Commissioned Maud Griffiths as Deanery Leader of Pool Deanery, and the Revd Colin Mansley gave a thoughtful and inspiring address. After the closing hymn, the Vicar, Revd Roger Bird pronounced the Blessing, and the Music Group sang ‘The Repose Blessing’ by Margaret Rizza. Finally we all joined together to sing and to sway to the rhythm of Siyahamba – ‘We are marching in the light of God.’
The service was followed by tea and a scrumptious selection of cakes, served in the nave.
Here is a short prayer for pilgrims:
Lord, we have stopped for a while in your presence
as companions on the way.
We pray that you will stay with us
as we journey on.
May God’s blessing be on each one of us;
may God’s blessing be on our journeys;
may God’s blessing keep us in safety
and peace. AMEN