And for all of those who will return in this year
Return from a world filled with everyday cares
Of finance, employment, property and all
We are carrying daily, those burdens we share
Common to us all. Return from a world
Of routine which weighs heavy, daily controlling,
Chasing privacy into dark corners and instants
Only seldom discovered and rarely consoling:
Occasional solace. Return from a world
Of relationships’ struggle, tolerance strained
By the actions of loved ones which tear at our patience,

Times when it would seem we shall never regain
All the feelings we know we still hold for the ones
In our lives who, like us, are burdened and worn
By those same cares. Return from a world of silent despair

Of moments when hope itself has been torn
From the heart of our lives, when confronting the headlines

Of a world so unable to live with itself
With the pain that we daily inflict on our own
Through war or poor use of our planetary wealth.
Or reports of the danger, the violence, the greed
The casual cruelty daily inflicted
By humans on humans. The hatred, the suffering,
Damage and pain: all the agony never depicted.
Return from a world full of people and noises
Which daily recalls isolation we feel
In moments hardly seen, forgotten awareness

Of alienation so concrete and real.
Return from the darkness of a world without God
From places our sous can no longer survive
In the emptiness we have created. No time
To acknowledge that we are but half alive
As we race endless, helplessly, fill days and hours
With all that’s important, life’s care and concern
Which is all that we are and without which we’re nought

For it holds us together. But let us return
From all that we are, and endeavour while here
To approach the potential of what we might be
As we try once again to return in this year.

Return to a place we’ve attended before
Though perhaps since last year only rarely we’ve seen
And remark on the change in surroundings, but not
In ourselves and the way we have been.
Return on a day when we’ve often returned
But have left shortly after arriving
Believing no food was sufficient endeavour
And never possessing the stomach for striving
Demanded in prayers that await us this day.
Return to the chance, the remote possibility
Of a real encounter, communion with God
With all its mystique, its impenetrability
Yet available to us, in here, on this day
This great day whose conception we owe to ancestors
On whose words and whose visions our faith is constructed

And who with this chance of returning have blessed us
And all who share our faith. Return to the One
Whi cries out every year for our human assistance
With divinely ordained task. Listen for the voice
Calling from beyond time, crying sharp from a distance

‘Return to me while still the moment is beckoning
Return in your thoughts and in all that you do
Open your hearts to reveal destinations long hidden:

Return to me that I may return unto you.’

And what is this returning to which we are bidden
This evening, this day, which confronts us with words
And with songs and with prayers which, unless understood,

Might as well be left unsung, unspoken, unheard
Both by us and by God, who has hope of far more.
Behold as we stand at this evening’s fall
Confronting the One who demands we admit
We have sinned. Opportunity beckons us all
And tells us to look far beyond what we’re reading

And feeling and praying: this day exists not
Just to tell us we’re awful and do only wrong.
It beseeches us: see the potential we’ve got
To improve. The words on our prayerbook
Tell us we have done wrong and we should be contrite.

But were we to leave here with only reminders
Of weakness and failure, this would not be right:
Though this must be acknowledged.

Atonement would fail If we carry such feelings departing from here.
There is more than this, far more, in waiting for those

Who succeed in their quest to return in this year.
Let us hearken once more and pay heed to the voice
That will carry once more for us the message of true

Repentance. Let us hear as God calls once again:
Return to me that I may return unto you.

Return to me that I may return unto you.
These are words that our ours on this awesome day

As God stretches to reach us, to beckon us close.

But how shall we start, begin making our way
On this undefined journey, impossible course

Whose direction is shrouded in mystery’s dark

Overhanging? How shall we return, we who

Burdened with struggles know not where to start

Our travel and still less where it leads. But we

Answered the call else we would not be here.
And so whether from habit or duty or hope
We may be among those who return in this year.

Return to a God who is present in all
That we are and in all that we do and believe:
In the colours of sunsets, the eyes of a child
In all that we yearn for, whether we achieve
Or we fail. In meetings of minds and of hearts
In music and melody, silence and words
Of love and of truth. Return to God dwelling
In all we shall hear and have already heard.
Return to a God whose presence is also
In busy streets crowded with jostling and striding

Of those who are journeying hastily on
With their lives which continue without coinciding

With the One who waits patiently for their return,

Haunting moments of doubt or of anguish and who

Whispers silently, waiting for us to acknowledge:

Return to me that I may return unto you.

And the way to return, to embark and discover

The truth of a God who waits only for us:

To recognise beauty in everyday encounter,
To go out in the world not with fear but with trust

And to greet waking instants each day with new hope.

In twenty-four hours we shall leave from here
To return to our homes, to our lives as they were.
But those of us who truly return in this year
Will carry there with us a whisper of God

Encountered in moments of this awesome day
We now begin. In a moment of silence
Or prayer or music. There is none who can say
How the whisper will touch us and enter our souls:

But touch us it can. And should we but allow it
To speak to us gently, our lives, now enriched,
Could begin anew. Let us feel benefit
From accepting the call that encircles us now
And cries out to everyone gathered in here:
‘Return to Me that I may return unto you.’
Let it be us who return in this year.

Yes, let it be us who return in this year.
Return to the cares and the burdens we share
To the daily routine, denying us privacy
To uncertain emotions for those who we care
For and who care still for us. Return to a world
Ever torn by its pain that won’t lessen this year.
Return to the hostile, the people, the noises.
But remember that we are returning from here
From a place, an encounter, a momentary glimpse
Of a whisper stretched out as we see this day through

Calling into the darkness that lurks in our world, crying:

‘Return to Me that I may return unto you.’
The difficult task that now stretches before us
Lies not in endurance to master this day
And acknowledge our frailty, weakness and sin
Till the close of Ne’ilah, then wander away
To return to what we were. This is not what is asked,
This is not what we seek when we seek t’shuvah.
Let us hear what is spoken and alter returning
So that when we return to the people we are
And the lives we must lead, let us deep down acknowledge

And recognise that, in the heart of all things,
There waits opportunity for an encounter.
With God, with ourselves. This acknowledgement brings
A new depth to our lives with the realisation
That through all the hustle, the pain, the despair
Of the world we return to, the alienation,
The silence, the loneliness, someone is there

To console and to comfort, to soften and ease
The concerns which might otherwise break us with sheer

Weight and pressure. This hope awaits, beckons and welcomes

All those of us who will return in this year.