“O God our help in ages past; our hope in times to come . . .”.
The choir sang the hymn beautifully; they were even accompanied by some drums and a trumpet. The hymn washed over us from the church across the road as we held our meeting in the park. And the words were so apt – especially now.
In the recent months it has become increasingly more unpleasant to hold the memorial meeting in the lounge we were renting of a fourth floor apartment. Firstly they subdivided the lounge – so that a bedroom now took up half the space we were renting and we had no natural light from a window on our side; then there was no longer a working electrical light in the lounge – only a faint glimmer from the kitchenette side; and finally the other occupants of the apartment started becoming more and more rowdy. Where previously they left the flat for the 2 hours or so during which we would have our memorial meeting – they now sat talking in their rooms – competing with the noise coming from the soccer being shown on the TV. Definitely not a very quiet and conducive atmosphere in which to remember our Lord.
So now – we meet in the park. With the first month of winter upon us, the sun sets just before 6 – and yet even long after the sun has set – a warm red glow wraps around us – enabling us to read that last passage – or finish the Bible study. It is quieter here – amazingly so – as there are many little groups of people all sitting around the park; and with God’s natural light we manage to have a Bible study far later than in the flat. Sure – it gets cold sitting on the grass but then you just make sure that you sit carefully and not move off the spot you warm up, or just huddle a little closer to keep the cool evening breeze at bay. And the legs cramp now and again, but Brother Patrick thoughtfully brought four chairs from a friends home (carried them for 3 city blocks) so that the older members did not have the discomfort of sitting on the ground.
No-one is complaining. Sure – it is not ideal – but it has not stopped the core group from still meeting together every Sunday afternoon. Some of the students have dropped away – but we believe that if their hearts are right they will meet with us wherever and whatever the situation. We have been looking for another apartment – but safe and affordable accommodation is not easy to come by – and that is why that hymn brought such comfort as we sat in the park – remembering our Lord.
It was very dark by the time we started our trip homewards – first dropping off all the Brethren before making our own way home. The light coming from the tramps campfire in the corner bade us a warm farewell – a fire very similar of the one burning in our own hearts – of the hope we have of Jesus returning to establish His Kingdom and do away with all the poverty, hunger and injustice in this world.