Praying for Belgium

On Good Friday night, a performance of the Messiah at St Andrew's Cathedral was dedicated to the people of Belgium.

Here is a transcript of the introduction by the Dean of Sydney, Kanishka Raffel.

Tonight we welcome Colonel Michael Miller Official Secretary to the Governor, representing His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley Governor of NSW.  We are pleased to welcome the Honorary Consul for Belgium in NSW, Mr Paul Leroy.

Mr Leroy was present at  Brussels Airport during this week’s attacks and has only just returned to Sydney in recent days.  We are very grateful for your attendance Paul.  Tonight’s performance is dedicated to the People of Belgium to whom we extend our sincere condolences and support.  Australia’s connection with Belgium dates back at least as far as the Battle of Passchendaele in WW1 during which Australia lost more than 6600 lives in Oct 1917 alone.

Today, Belgium is an international and multicultural nation, hosting NATO and the Parliament of the EU.  Handel’s Messiah begins with the words of Isaiah the prophet, ‘Comfort, comfort my people.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem…’

They are words for a nation, ancient Israel, that has suffered oppression at the hands of her enemies but has not been forgotten by God.  And today, Good Friday, Christians proclaim the message of Scripture which we are about to hear, that God has not turned his back on this broken and divided world, weary with sorrow and flooded with tears but has announced comfort in the person of his Son who has purchased healing and forgiveness by his death and resurrection.

So tonight we want to say to the People of Belgium and those all around the world affected by violence not of their own making, we have not forgotten you either.  Jesus Christ, crucified for sin and raised from the dead is God’s guarantee of a new world coming where every tear will be wiped away.

In a moment I am going to pray; then I would ask you to stand in silence; until the choir lead us in the hymn (printed in your program) When I survey the Wondrous Cross.  Then please resume your seats and our performance of Handel’s Messiah will commence.

If you are willing, join me in prayer, 

Gracious, loving and Sovereign God
we bring before you this broken and needy world.
We pray for the government and people of Belgium and especially those who have lost loved ones in this weeks’ attacks; we pray for the injured and recovering, and for those who have experienced great trauma through these events, including our friend Paul. 
We pray for the citizens of Belgium, from many nations and backgrounds: grant to each your comfort; bless them with healing and hope; save them from fear and mistrust; grant them your peace.
We pray for people around the world affected by violence not of their own making; move the international community to provide generously for their needs, offer shelter and refuge; join in opposing conflict and defending peace and freedom. 
Take away from human hearts the spirit that makes for war and bring us peace; we ask in the name of the prince of Peace, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Would you stand in silence.



Feature photo: Ashley Bayles