Thy Kingdom Come – “Lord, teach us to pray…a prodigal child”

 

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A father wraps a faltering hand around the head of a beloved son and draws him into his chest.  The son savours each moment – either because he never thought he’d get the chance to be here again or because he knows that one day it will all be taken away and never return.

It is a deeply personal story that some of us will know or it is the story of The Prodigal Son.

It is a reminder of the God who waits at the window – desperate for his tearaway child to return home or it is the story of Israel who finds herself in exile.

Either way, a father’s longing heart breaks as the child drifts a bit and soon he seems to forget who he is and what he is for.  The image of the Father has faded until you can barely see it.

The Lord’s Prayer… Our Father in Heaven.

The father is faithful. As the son asks for the inheritance he, effectively, wishes his father dead and breaks the family ties (or the covenant if you’re reading the story of Israel between the lines) but the father remains faithful, patient, determined.  Desperate for the chance to gallop up the path should the child come to his senses and into view.

To all who desire it, he offers the right to be children again (cf John 1)

The Lord’s Prayer… Hallowed be your name

When the homecoming BBQ is over and it is time to hang up the robe, the child is surely faced with a dilemma that the story doesn’t cover. How to respond.

The hand around the back of the head and the underserved embrace changed everything – grace does that. Honouring the Father’s name is what is required now.  The child (this child, every child) may have forgotten who he is and what he is for but the Father never did.  Because real Fathers never do.

The gospels go on to speak of another embrace (God’s arms outstretched like never before or since) which has restored the status and the resemblance and there is no turning back. The Father grants the right to be a child again.

And this is how the new creation breaks into the old.  This is how light fights back the darkness.

The Lord’s Prayer…#ThyKigdomCome

 

Thy Kingdom Come – Praying for the Nation

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When we set aside the time in #ThyKingdomCome for praying for our nation we could not have imagined the situation we would find ourselves in.  On Monday evening we sat with newspapers from the week and searched the headlines for good and bad stories through the eyes of faith.  Some people  would have you believe that faith and politics should not mix

Some people would have you believe that faith and politics should not mix – others might argue that they are one and the same!  The definition of the word ‘politics’ points to the ordering of society and effective governance.  If you take a look at the derivative of the word religion  (or re-ligion – reconnection/think of ligaments in a limb) you might agree that we are on similar ground.

Across Palestine and Jerusalem and much of the known world in the 1st century, you would have heard shouts of Caesar is Lord wherever people gathered.  When a group of people who’d followed the Nazarene around for a little while started to shout “Jesus is Lord” what were they doing if not politics?  They believed, at great risk, that God had just become King and if God was King then there was no room for any other.

So, it is important that we ‘do’ politics – even if the politicians are nervous about ‘doing God’.  Yesterday evening, one headline stood out for us.  “There is a light that never goes out” is the title of a song by The Smiths.  It has been used by some of the newspapers to describe the spirit evident in the people of Manchester this past week.  For us, it was a reminder of the intentions and purposes of God who came amongst us in order that darkness would never prevail.

Let us pray and then work for peace in our world, that the forces of hatred, violence and fear may be pushed back and a new bright day of peace dawn upon the world. History is not predetermined. Love WILL prevail in the end.

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word (Martin Luther King).

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice” (Martin Luther King)

Thy Kingdom Come – “Prayer without words”

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This morning we met together to continue our prayers on the theme of ‘Thy Kingdom Come’.

In the light of what has happened recently, the focus of our thoughts today were led to those words from our Lord’s Prayer:

“Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us…..for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory…”

This theme of forgiveness is especially poignant at the moment for our nation.

As a group this morning, we reflected on the account in 1 Samuel 24 and the story of how David resisted killing King Saul (who had been pursuing David to take his life) even though Saul was in a vulnerable position – alone – and unknowingly (because they were in a dark cave) – in the direct presence of David and his soldiers. Instead, David chose to merely cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak – perhaps to prove to Saul that he did have the opportunity to kill him but however chose not to.

Reflecting on this piece of scripture led us to a sharing of interactive and creative prayer, first using sprigs of rosemary (apparently, potent help in combatting memory loss) and coloured threads of silk to symbolise a person, persons or situation that we find hard to forgive. Then we made small book-mark-sized crosses using a template and brightly coloured wool to create something which we could give to people or use ourselves to focus our minds. I realise that there is a paradox in the act of using rosemary in the sense that we are needing to use it to ask God to help us forgive (forgive and forget…!) past hurts and move forward to the new creation God plans for us but it was helpful in linking remembering God’s grace and mercy we have in Jesus Christ to our own need to forgive past hurts.

Eddie shared with us also that he was reminded of Shaine Claiborne who wrote about the power of ‘Prophetic Prayerful Action’ which the author had experienced whilst living in a Christian community – where they gathered together guns that had been handed in and these were made into practical gardening implements… also reminding us of those words of scripture from Mic 4, v3:

“They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Although the awful reality of the events of Monday evening cannot be diminished or reconciled – yet there is a sense in which the people of Manchester have chosen (like David and his soldiers) not to respond with violence – but to bravely stand in solidarity with their fellow brothers and sisters of every race, faith and culture – “proud Mancs” and not allow this tragic incident to define the future negatively, but to press on towards a higher goal.

On that same Monday at the Christie Hospital – a special commemorative service was held to mark the blessing of a banner made for the Chaplaincy corridor – made by young people and contributed to by different sectors of the local community and finally the finished work blessed by Muslim, Jewish and Christian faith leaders. That work of prayerful creativity now has even more significance and will ever stand for brothers and sisters working together for God’s kingdom to come in that place.