From the Rector - May 2019

Dear Friends,

When I first met with the primary schools when I arrived in the Benefice in 2015, I had a conversation with the head teachers around the version of the Lord’s Prayer they would like to be taught. Over the course of assemblies we learnt the ‘traditional’ version and over time we have taught the importance of this prayer and understanding and implication of the words Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done....’

Over the years, through various walks of ministry, I have experienced the power of praying this prayer individually and in groups, large and small. Holding hands around a hospital bed having given the last rites to Anna’s grandmother... at the hospice where a non-church goer sought the comfort of these familiar words... at bedtime here at The Rectory with Sophia and Tilly... in the homes of the lonely and the bereaved, and of course on my own. In fact, these words echo through every church service, day in, day out.

This year, the Archbishops’ initiative ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ is marked again on the nine days (novena) between the feasts of Ascension and Pentecost - 30 May to 9 June, and we are invited to pray with Christians around the world, encouraging us to explore through prayer how we might witness courageously to God’s life-changing work.

In May 2016 the Archbishops of Canterbury and York invited Christians from across the Church of England to join a wave of prayer during the days between Ascension and Pentecost - a time when the church traditionally focuses on prayer. They encouraged everyone to ask for the Holy Spirit to help them be witnesses to Jesus Christ and to pray for others to discover that living faith. Worship helps to us recognise who God really is, it opens our hearts to what is good, and it catches us up into the life of heaven. It is something we are called to every day of our lives and it is fulfilled, among other ways, when we pray and when we say the Lord’s Prayer.

What started as an idea gained momentum and in 2016 more than 100,000 Christians from different denominations and traditions took part from the UK and across the world. They joined in more than 3,000 events and services. The time of prayer culminated in six national Beacon Events over Pentecost weekend at cathedrals in different parts of the country.

In 2018, every diocese in the UK took part, and 85 per cent of Church of England churches and cathedrals were involved as well as the churches of the world-wide Anglican Communion and many other denominations and traditions. Leaders from Churches Together in England, including Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Baptist and Methodist churches, Free churches and Orthodox churches came together to pray Thy Kingdom Come', and the event is now truly an ecumenical one.

As the apostles prayed together following Jesus’ ascension, waiting for the Holy Spirit to come at Pentecost, so we will wait and pray. They prayed in obedience, trusting that the way ahead would be revealed. We pray at this time that the Holy Spirit will show us new ways of living and loving. When God is at work in us, God is also at work through us in changing the lives of others, so let us pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come....’ together, and open our hearts and minds to new possibilities.

This prayer has brought me comfort, strength and hope; it has challenged me too as I’ve reflected on God’s call on my life. I pray that you will find in the Lord’s Prayer a source of God’s grace too.

Richard