People will sing
Welsh Gold Wedding Rings
Bryd hynny, byddi’n dweud: “Dw i eisiau diolch i ti, O ARGLWYDD! Er dy fod wedi digio gyda fi, rwyt wedi troi oddi wrth dy lid a’m cysuro. Edrychwch ar y Duw sydd wedi fy achub i! Bydda i’n ei drystio, a fydd gen i ddim ofn. Yr ARGLWYDD sy’n rhoi nerth a chân i mi! Yr ARGLWYDD sydd wedi fy achub i.” Byddwch yn codi dŵr yn llawen o ffynhonnau achubiaeth.
A day is coming when people will sing, “I praise you, Lord! You were angry with me, but now you comfort me and are angry no longer. God is my saviour; I will trust him and not be afraid. The Lord gives me power and strength; he is my saviour. As fresh water brings joy to the thirsty, so God’s people rejoice when he saves them.”
Isaiah 12: 1-3
Yesterday marked the beginning of an easing of travel restrictions in Wales. For some, it feels like a step in the right direction. For others, there is greater nervousness that it increases risk of infection. Either way, the Welsh Government are keeping the situation under review and have the unenviable task of balancing the desire for restoration of freedom with the protection of us all, when the threat of COVID-19 is still present. Fascinatingly, the First Minister Mark Drakeford, in yesterday’s press briefing, spoke of his understanding that everyone wants certainty. But it would be foolish to offer false hope by working towards long term dates, as the monitoring and learning about this disease and its control, are constantly evolving.
This week also marks the beginning of a very partial re-opening of some of our local church buildings (times for personal prayer listed here in yesterday’s reflection). We rejoice, like the lifting of the 5-mile limit on travel, at a glimpse of restoration. However, we proceed with a great deal of caution, and our prayers are with all involved in that detailed work of cleaning and protection. Like the First Minister, we do not speculate on when the full restoration of worshipping together in our buildings might be. And we have a nuanced, yet significant difference in how I suggest we might define the difference between false and sure hope. In these most uncertain of times, when restrictions are only gradually being lifted, we have certainty in God, who takes care of our future.
As people of faith, we believe there will be an end to our trials. As the passage from Isaiah prophesies – we can look forward to the day when we will sing again. We can sing of our trust in God wherever we are; it is not limited to church, concert hall or football ground! But the day will come when we can worship together and enjoy the arts and sporting events physically once again. We pray for that day, which will ‘bring joy to the thirsty’.
At the weekend I was given the privilege of blessing my daughter and son-in-law’s wedding rings in a ceremony via Zoom. The rings are in Conwy. The new Mr and Mrs Muzuni are in Zambia. To us, the rings represent not only a symbol of human love and commitment, but God’s too. Their marriage is built on faith in that very definition of sure hope, as it says in Hebrews 11:1 ‘faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.’ We do not know yet the date when we will be able to put those rings on their fingers in St. Mary’s Conwy. But we will. And we will sing.
It may appear foolish to believe that there can be a connection between a Bible passage written so long ago in different circumstances to ours, even though Isaiah was writing in times of great trouble, pain and discomfort. Yet, when we use these words in prayer and meditation, God speaks to us afresh of His promises. For He is the God of past, present and future. And for all those who have lost loved ones through this terrible time of affliction and isolation, for whom we pray, we have the assurance of His welcome in heaven. For then, we can together sing His praises. For evermore. Singing in church, of course, is but a foretaste.
If in celebration, and if you like ‘big band’ swing arrangements, why not sing or dance around your kitchen to this version of the old hymn ‘Blessed Assurance’? For we will dance too! 😊 The words from today’s prayer.
Sicrwydd bendigaid, Iesu yn rhan,
hyn ydyw ernes nef yn y man;
aer iachawdwriaeth, pryniant a wnaed,
ganed o’r Ysbryd, glochwyd â’i waed.
Dyma fy stori, dyma fy nghân,
canmol fy Ngheidwad hawddgar a glân;
dyma fy stori, dyma fy nghân,
canmol fy Ngheidwad hawddgar a glân!~
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine,
O what a foretaste of glory divine:
heir of salvation, purchase of God;
born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Saviour all the day long.
This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Saviour all the day long!
cyf. Gwilym R Tilsley (1911-1997)
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