Our Father

Season of Prayer
On the remaining days until Pentecost, we will reflect each day on a phrase from the Lord’s Prayer.  Each phrase is so rich in meaning and is steeped in the history of Jewish people and can be found in the Old Testament.  However, what are absolutely unique are the words with which we are encouraged by Jesus to address God– “Our Father”.
The prayer begins with no grand title, only the address as to the father of a family.  The prayer we say every Sunday – sometimes without even thinking of the words – was in fact a radical departure from the normal way of praying.  Nowadays we have lost the sense of just how radical it is in its call to intimacy with God.  As Rowan Williams notes, “This is the prayer which you address to God in the most intimate of terms, not telling him how wonderful he is, not grovelling in any way before him, but just coming with complete confidence”.
In the first century world, such a concept was shocking and strange.  It was not a one-off comment: Jesus continues the theme when speaking to Mary Magdalene saying, “I’m ascending to my father and your father”.
hugThis image of father can be problematic for those amongst us that have had far from ideal relationships with our own fathers.  However, the best example of the ‘father’ Jesus pictured when saying this prayer or when he cried out on the cross to His father, was the image of the forgiving father in the parable of the prodigal son, a father who is always ready to love, forgive, allow us to wipe the slate clean and begin again even when we are ’still far off’.
It is this intimate and transforming personal relationship with God which is at the heart of the Gospel.  It is the very words with which we start our most well-known prayer that tell us a huge amount about who we are as Christians, about our Christian belief.
So please read again Luke 15:11-32.  Today we pray for evangelization in the area of Maidenbower bounded by Maidenbower Drive, Billinton Drive and Laud Drive/Tudor Close and, amongst the schools in the parish, for Maidenbower Infant School – please pray for families, for the head, Sarah and her staff and all the children that go to the School.  Also pray for the Messy Church that meets monthly in the school and for the trip to Worth Church by Year 2 children this term.  And please lift up our Parish Vision Day, being held today, that the Father’s love will be seen and experienced.
Novena Prayer
Almighty God
Who in your Son Jesus Christ,
Declared the coming of your Kingdom,
Strengthen us in the ways of righteousness
And peace, that our brothers and sisters may
Know the healing power of the gospel,
And that you will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

From the Rector…

Clergy

It was with a thankful heart that, on Wednesday, I took the Maidenbower Service Register out of the safe and watched Steve write the entry for Messy Church (over 40 present) below my previous entry “Closing Service”. It was poignant that the Messy Church service took place in the same room in the Infant School that had hosted the worship of The Holy Family (the ‘church plant’ in the newly constructed neighbourhood of Maidenbower). Our thanks to the Infant School for facilitating the initiative.

On Friday, sitting with three others at the “Chat & Pray” held in Stepney’s Café, I gave thanks for that gathering that ‘held the baton’ of our church’s presence in Maidenbower, week by week, since it was built. To me it is important, and I pray that it is so for the people of Maidenbower, that we have that record of faithfulness and long-term commitment to them and the community. It might not seem much … but then neither does a mustard seed.

Thank-you to all who have and will nurture this new plant through prayer and practical support. May it grow into a mighty tree, like the noble cedar of our Old Testament reading. For those not fortunate enough to have seen the cedars of Lebanon, the image Ezekiel evokes can be brought to mind by looking at the cedar in the St Nicholas’ churchyard. A noble cedar providing shelter for all reminds me of the desperate plight of Palestinian, Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Lebanon today – and so to our parish’s little ‘mustard seed’ of social witness in providing a welcome and hospitality to the Refugee Tales walkers at St Nicholas’ next week. Can any of you help us to welcome and show solidarity with those highlighting the plight of refugees in this country?

 

Anthony