Daily Devotion 01 March 2021

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

Revelation 7: 9-12 ‘The Multitude from Every Nation’

9 After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10 They cried out in a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ 11 And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, 12 singing:

‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour
and power and might be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.’

The spread of some languages across the globe is quite remarkable. Colonial expansion, voyages of discovery, and sadly often brutal suppression of local languages and dialects mean that today, languages such as English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Dutch are spoken far beyond the countries they originate from. Being St. David’s Day, I did a little research into the tongue of my father(s), Welsh, to see how far that had gone. Would it be Chester? Shrewsbury? Or even further…maybe even Patagonia?

Some of you know I wasn’t being facetious writing that last place! In 1865 a community of people from Wales emigrated to South America and made a concerted effort to preserve language, culture and customs. This little Welsh enclave initially just survived, then thrived, and became known as the Y Wladfa (literally ‘The Colony’ and took to using the flag you can see on the left). To this day there are pockets of Welsh-speaking communities in both Chile and Argentina, with ongoing links to Wales to ensure Welsh-speaking radio and TV programmes, food and other items, are available there.

During the Falklands War in 1982, as the fighting was drawing to a close, hundreds of Argentine prisoners were taken, and they were disarmed and gathered. During this process, one of the Welsh Guards, David Jones, knowing of Y Wladfa, called out in Welsh over the heads of the Argentine POWs, wondering if any would respond. He wrote later: “One person answered me and I had a conversation with him, allowing me to speak my mother tongue in a way, and that was very strange-like feeling on the same level…two lads, alike, but on different sides.”  www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-17585249.

What a moment for these two soldiers! Told to fight and kill each other, but finding in that moment a common humanity, a shared culture, language and similarities which somehow bridged all the differences. The writer of Revelation captures this too in a different sense: masses of people, tongues, tribes, yet united in one voice of praise to God. Differences abound in our society, of religion, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, wealth, ability – but God our heavenly Father moves us to love alike, even if we cannot always think alike. Maybe like the Welsh soldier, we should be proactive in seeking out moments to share commonality and create community.

Prayer:

Creator God, help us to treasure diversity and approach difference with respect;
may we learn deeper truths through our conversation and dialogue with one another.
May we be united of heart, soul, mind and strength, in love of you and neighbour. Amen.

Reflection and Prayer © 2021 Paul Tabraham.
Image freely available online.

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