From the Archives…
Revd Gordon Parry reads the prayer of Absolution in which God is asked to forgive us our sins and to help us pursue better lives in future.
From the Book of Common Prayer,
Choral Evensong, February 2017.
‘Thy Kingdom Come’ is a phrase that trips off the tongue of Christians every time they pray the Lord’s Prayer. It sums up the purpose of Jesus and of his body, The Church. We exist, with Jesus, to build the Kingdom of God. We do that, in part, by seeking to transform the unjust structures of society and conforming them to the intentions of God. We also do it by sharing our faith, hope and love with others. However we help build the Kingdom of God, we must do it in partnership with God and so pray as Jesus taught us: Thy Kingdom come. Prayer is what ensures our partnership with God. Without it, we risk trying to establish not his Kingdom, but some lesser vision of our own.
Thy Kingdom Come has become the title and focus of a worldwide wave of prayer during the period between Ascension Day and Pentecost (25th May – 4th June, this year). Every one of us is invited to join in this wave of prayer that more people may come to know, love and follow Jesus – and so become joyful fellow-workers in building up God’s Kingdom.
There are countless ways to join in this worldwide wave of prayer, as churches, as families or groups, or quietly as individuals. Last year, many churches hosted day-long events embracing many different kinds of corporate and individual prayer. I was privileged to share in several. This year a website has been launched: www.thykingdomcome.global. I urge you to visit it if you can and to discover how you can best be a part of this wave of prayer, whether or not your church is hosting a special event.
With thanks for our partnership in prayer,
+Mark, Bishop of Horsham
At St Nicholas’ Church on Wednesday 16th November at 2.30 pm, our recently-formed prayer group will be meeting and we’d love you to join in. We simply talk about anything in the parish that might need our consideration and just pray together. People either say what comes into their minds or stay silent, as suits them.
If you would like to join us, you will be very welcome indeed.
In case people haven’t seen this, we repeat here the joint statement of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in response to the shootings in Orlando:
After Sunday’s attack in Orlando as Christians we must speak out in support of LGBTI people, who have become the latest group to be so brutally targeted by the forces of evil.
We must pray, weep with those affected, support the bereaved, and love without qualification.
The obligation to object to these acts of persecution, and to support those LGBTI people who are wickedly and cruelly killed and wounded, bereaved and traumatised, whether in Orlando or elsewhere, is an absolute call on our Christian discipleship.
It arises from the unshakeable certainty of the gracious love of God for every human being. Now, in this time of heartbreak and grief, is a time for solidarity. May God our Father give grace and comfort to all who mourn, and divine compassion to us all.
People would address a god or goddess and say, “This person hurt me, and here’s how they hurt me, and I want payback. I want you to hurt them, inflict pain on them, and here is how I want you to do that.”
If we don’t, we carry the heavy burden that is unforgiveness. This burden can consume us and define us and rob us of life.
In these last nine days, we have been joining together with our brothers and sisters in Christ across the country in reflecting upon God’s Kingdom and praying for the re-evangelism of this country. This call to prayer from our archbishops coincided with “prayer” featuring prominently amongst the spiritual gifts identified by participants in the Network Couse and, at our Vision Day, emerging as a focus for our parish life.
We (the clergy) have spent the past two days in prayer and reflection seeking to distil the ideas from the Vision Day into a meaningful map of the way ahead, with prayer at its core. However, sometimes all of us in our busyness of doing and reliance on our own strength and resources can forget this fundamental aspect of Christian life – prayer. We have seen how the first part of the Lord’s Prayer has focused us on God, His Kingdom and our reliance on Him. Today we reflect how the prayer moves from those statements to our own petitions or requests.
Give us this day our daily bread – well, bread was the staple diet in the ancient world of the Bible. In saying these words, we are saying that we trust absolutely that everything we need will be provided by God. This is not just our physical needs (such as food) but also our spiritual and emotional needs. We are saying, “Heavenly Father, everything we have and everything we need comes from you”. Often we only turn to God in the final stages of a predicament – when a marriage is falling apart, when we don’t know where the next source of income is coming from or when there seems no other place to turn to. God can be seen as a last resort. What this line from the Lord’s Prayer says to us is that we must be constantly asking and relying on God – right from the start of our endeavours, not just when things have gone wrong.
A few months ago, a group from the parish went to a day conference on “Growing Churches”. We were challenged by the facilitator with this question: “You have come here because you want your church to grow. Yes? Well, how many of your churches are every day asking God to help you grow in numbers, in depth and in breadth?” The many embarrassed looks around the room revealed that Worth Parish were not alone in not praying this obvious petition.
There is an old golfing story about Gary Player once being asked how come he was so lucky. He replied, “I practice a lot to be this lucky”. Prayer is a little like that – the more we pray the more we see God’s presence in our lives – be this through answered or unanswered prayers.
This story was told by a Catholic priest who spent some time with Mother Teresa:
One day in the mother house in Calcutta there were about three hundred novices and they were all out for the morning. One of the novices working in the kitchen came up to Mother Teresa and said, “We’ve planned poorly; we have no flour to bake these chipattis for lunch.” (Chipattis are little flour and water pancakes.) The situation looked bleak – three hundred+ mouths are coming to be fed in about an hour and a half and there’s nothing to cook with. There’s no food.
“What I would expect Mother Teresa to do,” Fr. Langford explained to me, “was that Mother would pick up the telephone and call some of her benefactors and mobilize them to find some way to feed her daughters. Instead, her reaction—her spontaneous reaction—was to say to this little one, ‘Sister, you’re in charge of the kitchen this week? Well then, go into the chapel and tell Jesus we have no food. That’s settled. Now let’s move on. What’s next?’”
Lo and behold, ten minutes later there was a ring at the door and Mother Teresa was called downstairs. A man she had never seen before was standing there with a clipboard. He addressed her saying, “Mother Teresa, we were just informed that the teachers at the city schools are going on strike. Classes have been dismissed and we have 7,000 lunches we don’t know what to do with. Can you help us use them?” God provided for the needs of his children.
Mother Teresa’s sanctity was built on a very simple foundation of deep faith and trust in God. Mother Teresa turned to Him in prayer, not only in need, but also to rest in the arms of the Father—body and spirit. That is how Mother Teresa lived each day of her life; each day trusting God to provide her daily bread.
Please join us in praying for the growth of your church in this place – St Barnabas’ and St Nicholas’ – and particularly, today, for the residents of the area of Maidenbower to the south and east of Maidenbower Drive (plus Georgian Close) and to the west of Lucerne Drive up to Maidenbower Park. Also for Maidenbower Junior School, giving thanks for the dedication of Allyson Croucher (Headteacher), all the staff, the pupils, the Governors and all those who make up the school community.
Do Not Worry .. Matthew 6 25-34
In Matthew 16 13-19, Jesus asks the disciples who they think he is. All the people they think he is – John the Baptist, Elijah or Jeremiah – are good people to be. However, it is only when Simon Peter says that he is ‘the Messiah, the Son of the Living God’ that things shift in the passage. At this moment Simon Peter has seen the glory of God revealed in Jesus. When this happens, Jesus tells them that the way that God will continue to reveal His glory, after he has gone, is through the Church.
There is a dilemma when we look back in history – sometimes we would like to eliminate the Church as the chosen vehicle to tell people about the gospel. For, after all, hasn’t the Church embarrassed us all in some shape or form? The Church seems to have given Jesus a bad reputation, from the Crusades to the Inquisition, from the defense of slavery through scripture to the Westboro Baptists who picket service men and women’s funerals declaring God’s judgment on them, and even the child abuse in our own Diocese. At each stage the Church has taken the blame, the stain, and has to live with it – one could be forgiven for thinking that the Church has little reputation or right to speak up.
We can either pretend that we are not the Church, so that we don’t have to carry the baggage of lots of bad decisions by lots of people, or we can take on and re-claim the name for all those people who don’t know what the Church should actually be. As we pray ‘thy kingdom come’ let us keep in mind that Jesus is the hope of the world and the Church is how God has chosen to bring in His kingdom and make Jesus known.
And Jesus himself tells us that God’s kingdom comes in unexpected ways; it doesn’t just come with a great clap of thunder at the end of time, it grows in our midst, secretly. It comes through in quirky little moments when people do extraordinary things, take extraordinary risks and leads you to think “Ah yes, that’s a life in which God is real”.
You may have seen the story this week that prompted a mother to post this on Facebook:
‘I would like to say a massive thank you to the lady in the photo (sorry didn’t see her name) who helped me today at Morrisons in Basingstoke. I have two children that are both registered blind and are also autistic. As you can imagine shopping is not an easy thing for me to do, at the checkout both girls decided to go into meltdown and this very kind lady decided to help instead of judge. It doesn’t happen very often! She distracted my daughter by letting her scan all my shopping. A dream come true for Holly who loves playing ‘shops’. It melts my heart to come across people that are prepared to go the extra mile, and little acts of kindness makes a massive difference to my world. I hope this gets back to her and she knows how much we appreciate it. Amanda xxx’.
These acts of love and service are what should define the Church. Imagine a Church doing that – Jesus did!
Please pray that Jesus may be made known in the area of Pound Hill and Worth to the north of Worth Road & Turners Hill Road and south of Worth Park Avenue/A2220 which includes the Church of St Barnabas and Pound Hill Junior School. As you pray for the School please remember the year 5 children that are on a residential trip to the Isle of Wight, the Headteacher, Anthony White, and all those who work or study at the school.