Hallowed Be Thy Name

Season of Prayer
The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.    Psalm 19 v 1

Before I became a Christian I was barely aware of the use of God’s and Jesus’s name as profanities.  There were far worse words out there being used.  It has only been since I have become a Christian that it bothers me, not in a legalistic way – that we are breaking the rules and will be punished – but because I have learnt to love God and his Son deeply and when someone does not ‘hallow’ his name I feel that they ignore and even shun God’s beauty.  By saying we ‘hallow’ God’s name we are saying that this is serious, for ‘hallowed’ means holy or sacred.

bluebellsSome days are easier to ‘hallow’ God’s name than others.  Yesterday, I was with my family in Tilgate and the sun was shining and the bluebells were out in abundance.  You could feel God’s glory and I could easily praise Him.  On other days when the news of an earthquake or terrible crime is reported or a young child is snatched away from loving parents too early it is hard to ‘hallow’ God’s name.  Why?  Because here he seems absent.  But he is not.  I think God can relate to suffering because he suffered too, on the cross in the person of his Son, Jesus, the Christ. So in the good and the bad times God’s name is to be hallowed.  It is not easy and has to come through practice and forming habits.

How?  By always hallowing His name, by seeing Him in the small things and praising Him for them.  For a good cup of tea, for a bluebell, for family, for till receipts (I did a sermon once on that, so you will have to ask me!) and for lazy afternoons.  For if we see His Glory in the small stuff and name it, we will see it at times when it is almost impossible to see – in the times of hardship.

Matt and Beth Redman wrote a song “Blessed be Your Name”, about blessing God’s name no matter what. They wrote the song after the pain of a miscarriage.  It has helped me, when things have been bad, to remember to praise God in the ups and downs of life.

So today, no matter how you feel, praise God.  Maybe all you can do is praise God for the air that you breathe or maybe you can pray and thank God for all God’s children who live and work in the areas of Pound Hill and Worth, south of Worth Road and Turners Hill Road and east of the B2036/Balcombe Road.  Amongst our schools we ask you particularly to pray for the children and staff of the Pound Hill Infant Academy and their families, for Julie Knock-Bravery the Executive Principal and the work the school does as part of the Southern Collaborative Learning Partnership (SCLP) Alliance.

Steve Burston

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

Prayer Matters

Season of Prayer

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.                  Matthew 28 19

Prayer matters – it mattered to Jesus and it mattered to the early Church and so it should matter to us.  If we are really honest, no one can boast a perfect prayer life.   Life is busy and sometimes our prayers can be missed or we are so busy with our own demands that we don’t allow God in.  Prayer is how we have communion with God our creator, who made us in His image to have an intimate relationship with him. A relationship so intimate that Jesus asks us to call God ‘Abba’ – Father – Daddy; ‘Our Father who art in heaven’.  So prayer is important, intimate and finally, it makes a difference.  We may not see the answer to prayer and at time God may seem silent, but as Rowan Williams explained at a lecture at my Theological College in Cambridge, prayer is like sunbathing – as you pray, you feel different, warm, but not aware of change going on in you, but at the end you have changed – in the case of sunbathing you have tanned, in the case of prayer, you have melted your heart a little in communion with God.

So with the importance, intimacy and power of prayer in mind, our Archbishops Justin and Setamu have called on all in the Church of England to begin today nine days of prayer for the spreading of the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ across this country.

As our Parish’s response – we (the clergy) will be posting each day on our website and Facebook and via email,  a specific area of the Parish to pray for, a suggestion of what to pray for and a short reflection.

The Church used to be the heart of the community, but with vastness of Parishes, in many ways, schools have replaced churches as centres. Therefore, on each of the nine days, we will focus closely on an area of our Parish and the school that serves it. If we are to continue to fulfil the great commission of going to baptize and make disciples, the work of our Parish and the Lighthouse project in schools is a vital part of our ministry and deserving of our prayers.

Worth_School_and_AbbeyToday’s area for prayer is the part of the Parish which is across the M23.  At the heart of this area is Worth School and Worth Abbey.  Founded in 1933, the Abbey and Independent School has its Catholic Faith at its heart.  Recently, a group of young people in their thirties called the Forerunners have joined the school to assist in the making of Christian disciples in the school, with the backing of the new Headmaster Stuart McPherson and head Chaplain Fr. Peter.  As over a third of the pupils are not Catholic, our Rector, Anthony, plays a crucial role as the Anglican Chaplain for the school.  Please pray for Worth school, its staff, pupils and all those involved in the proclaiming the Gospel in that place.  Also pray for the area of our Parish, often forgotten by us, on the other side of the M23.

Thank You.

 

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 Curate…

Pewsheets

As we approach the Parish Vision Day and in the wake of the Annual Parish Church Meeting, I paused to reflect in my study at St Barnabas’ about the importance of prayer and the prayer life of the Parish.

In a few weeks, we have been challenged by our Archbishops, Justin and Sentamu, to enter with all other churches into a season of prayer between Ascension Day (5th May) and Pentecost Sunday (15th May).  We (the clergy) are going to pray at Morning Prayer each day for a specific geographical area of our Parish and send an email/post on Facebook a daily reflection that we hope will enable those amongst our congregations to engage also in this season of prayer.

As is always the case with God, this initiative has coincided with a parallel – renewed interest in the prayer life of the Parish that has emerged from the Home Groups looking into the spiritual gifting amongst us.  From this, a small prayer group has committed to meet in the Upper Room at St Barnabas’ at 9.30am each Sunday to pray together for such things as the parish, the Parish Vision Day and the service that follows.  If you would like to join them then please do ask me and I will point you in the right direction.  Prayer matters and makes a difference.

Blessings, Steve

From the Curate…

Clergy

So we have begun our Everybody Welcome Course – with 50 of us turning up either to a session on a Tuesday night at St Barnabas’ or one on a Thursday morning at St Nicholas’.

I really enjoyed leading both sessions, because the best part was listening and watching the various tables discuss and express their views on the Churches in our Parish and the way that we were visible or invisible to the community around us and how we might move forward in expressing the gospel of Jesus Christ to those we come into contact with.

In today’s reading we see Peter, who last week we read had gone back to being a fisherman, realise his need to make Jesus Christ the centre of his life and in doing so was able to perform miracles.  The Gospel, that we are saved because Jesus died for us and from that act of amazing love we should love others – is central to Peter and should be central to us – as we invite and interact with new people who are seeking or visiting.

From the sessions 3 things really struck me; your honesty in that we had lots of people we could invite to Church but lack the skills or the attractive services to invite them to, the challenges we face, such as 7000 non-church visitors to baptisms at St Nicholas’ in a year – yet they meet only 10 of the normal congregation; and finally, the great ideas you have of what to change.  May the other sessions be as productive.

Steve

From the Curate…

Easter

Lent is over and Christ is Risen! Happy Easter! Rip open the chocolate eggs and carve the leg of lamb. Is that all that Easter is now? Just a 2000 year old quaint story – a myth that has little meaning. Obviously, given my profession, I don’t think that is all it is. The eggs, family meals and lamb are all an added bonus.

However, what we celebrate today is the single most important date in history. In short it is a game changer. It is what we celebrate in the baptisms of Renex, Noah, Stanley and Lucy and with Alex, Christian, Lily and Andy taking their first bread and wine at the Eucharist. For in Baptism and the Eucharist we enter into a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ who was the game changer.

Humanity is built with an awareness that it is cut off somehow from God through its ability to continually mess up and every other religious code starts from a position that humanity will try to bridge the gap to God in its own efforts. Christianity rather looks to God to help bridge the troublesome chasm between humanity and God. God bridged the gap by sending his only begotten Son because he loved the world so much – who opened his arms on the cross and breached the gap between us and God – then, now and forever. That is what we celebrate. Happy Easter

Steve

From the Curate

Pewsheets

Here are my credentials of faith; I was baptised on the day of my birth and was married in a Church; I did my first Alpha (over ten years ago) and went to a Free Church in London; I made a commitment to Christ and was baptised in a full immersion ceremony.  I then started going to a rural Anglican Church and was then confirmed in the Anglican faith by Bishop Mark; I ran the youth group for several years, ran a home group, led Alpha Courses, went to study at Cambridge for two years, and was then ordained deacon and then priest.

Does any of that mean anything to God? Of course, yes – they are important markers on the way – but what matters most to God is none of this.  I am equal to every single human being, for what matters is my response to the Gospel.

Is it, like Judas, where the Gospel does not penetrate the heart or is it from the heart, like Martha, who cannot help but show her love in anointing Christ with perfume?  What matters to God is that we know with all our heart, soul and mind that Christ made us his own and from that we are to press on in our relationship with Him.  From this knowledge we can then look forward with firm foundations at what God might be calling Worth Parish to do in the coming years.

Steve

From the Curate…

Pewsheets

I preached a couple of weeks ago about a how genuine encounters with God will change us; and that genuine encounters with God only happen when we give Him space in our lives.  Hopefully, as you read this we have successfully arrived as a family in Cornwall – to a flat rented for church workers to have space and time with God away from their ministry.  Space to spend time in reading the scriptures, in prayer and in some (but not guaranteed!) silence.

I have read that Waterloo was won in the classrooms of Eton – meaning that our officers had formed the right habit to lead well. So also, as Christians we must form the right habits in order to live Christ like lives.  Jesus’ response to his three tests in the wilderness shows that he had formed the right habits – for he responds by quoting scripture and awareness of the Spirit.  Jesus’ ministry is defined by this knowledge of scripture and prayer.  Perhaps this Lent we might give God space (maybe start with 15 mins) by reading a short passage and then praying each day – then we might be better equipped to face the trials of life.

Steve

From the Curate…

Pewsheets

With today’s Gospel reading you could legitimately ask the question; ‘How on earth does turning water into wine reveal to us the Glory of God?’

Obviously, there is the quick answer that it demonstrates Jesus to be the best wedding guest ever and it dispels the arguments that as Christians we are not to party or celebrate. I suppose you could even argue the case to always invite the clergy to the reception in case lightning strikes twice!

Joking aside, today’s reading is one of the critical moments within the Gospel narrative.  One day when he was around thirty years old, Jesus and his friend showed up at a wedding. Weddings in Israel typically lasted seven days.  Families were known to invite large number of people, sometimes – entire villages  (with three daughters – I always thank God that this practice is no longer observed and I have often advocated bringing your own picnic as an alternative to the wedding reception!)  Refusal to come was an insult and there should be leftovers – so running out of wine was a serious faux pas.  When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother asked him to step in. His reply that his hour had not yet come – was ignored – mother’s always know best!  And then came the critical moment. As he acted and turned the water in wine, the host relaxed, the feast resumed, the crowd rejoiced – but a chain of events had been set in motion that would lead to a confrontation with enemies that would change the course of the world.  A clock had started ticking.

Jesus had spent 30 years preparing for this moment – he had prepared for it by always keeping his eyes on God and God’s purpose for his life as well as studying the scripture and praying – so that he was ready at a Wedding in Cana to start the clock ticking. A pattern of preparation we should all follow

Steve

From the Curate…

Clergy

As we approach the New Year – we have as a Church gathered on several occasions to celebrate the birth of the Hope of the World – Jesus Christ.  I preached before Christmas at St Nicholas’, that if we choose to really follow the teaching of Jesus Christ then -‘how quickly our world could change’.  Our world could change if we said words like “I’m sorry” to those we were estranged from, “forgive me” to those we had wronged, “use me”, “guide me” or “cleanse me” to God in order to make him the centre of our lives. That is quite a challenge, and if you felt that after too much Turkey the challenge of the Gospel – good news, would simply disappear amongst our own overeating and tiredness – then think again!

Our reading from Colossians  doesn’t lower the bar so we may, in our post-Christmas heavier state, just limp over it. No  – it raises the bar even higher by issuing us with the challenge of the Christian life. ‘Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other’. Clearly this is written by a man that has never spent a Christmas Day with the in-laws!  But there it is in black and white – followed by the words ‘above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony’. As Christians the bar seems high and it is – for we can only achieve it with the help of the Holy Spirit.  But if we do aim high and invite the Holy Spirit to help us then we might also grow as Samuel and Jesus grow in wisdom, stature and favour.

Blessings,
Steve