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.

 

 

Thy Kingdom Come – “Waiting on God”

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Winnie the Pooh was more ‘chilled’ than most of us – getting there someday isn’t usually fast enough.   Lots of us carry around devices which, among other things, help us to navigate a route A to B.  They are always set, by default, to do so in the shortest possible time.  How many of us don’t ‘fast forward’ through the adverts to get to the end of the drama on ITV?

Yet before God moves, there always seems to be a period of waiting.  It can’t be that God has a lackadaisical approach towards us.  Any idea that He responds to our fervent prayers with a shrug of the shoulders and “Domani’ just won’t do.  It is not consistent with what we know of Him.  So there must be something else on offer in the waiting.

Today is Ascension Day and the start of our part in the Thy Kingdom Come prayer project which churches across the nation will join in – in fact churches across the world.  When Luke starts his second volume (Acts of the Apostles) he revisits and recounts the ascension of Jesus as if something in the encounter was pivotal to our understanding of what had gone before and what was to follow.

The friends of Jesus are impatient to know if this the moment when God will make everything right.  When we meet later tonight to worship, we will be carrying with us some of the grief and anxiety of Mancunians everywhere who might be asking a similar question.  How long before all of this stuff ends?  Jesus asks them (and perhaps us) to wait on God.

‘Waiting on God’ is like no other kind of waiting.  Some waiting seems to be passive – that kind of waiting is the wishful thinking we experience when the bus, just in sight at Rochdale Road, will carry the number 18 when it eventually draws close.

‘Waiting on God’ is waiting with expectation.  God has been faithful in the past, continues to be faithful and will be faithful in the future.  We are alert to the many and varied ways he is making his presence known and felt in the world.  On Monday evening we witnessed God’s image bearers in countless acts of love and service around a scene of terror.

So, we learn too that ‘waiting on God’ is sensing that we have a purpose and a task.  When the apostles were told to wait they were waiting for the gift of God’s Spirit at Pentecost.   When we reach the end of our period of prayer we will celebrate the gift of God’s presence in our world, our lives, our church and our community.

This active and expectant waiting on God, which marks out a disciple of Jesus, changes us every bit as much as it unleashes divine intervention into those situations we pray for.  Perhaps this is the one answer to prayer that you can easily predict.  Luke, when recording Jesus’ teaching on prayer, gave us that passage about knocking and doors being opened and those who seek will find and it all just seems far too easy.  Too easy to be disappointed.  At the end of that passage in Luke 11 Jesus gives us a promise of an answer to prayer that we can bank on when he says about our petitions, “how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him”

Ascension Day is the day that we celebrate the Kingship of Jesus.  His rule and reign on earth and the part he has called us play as we ‘wait on God’.

Maybe, Luke revisits the Ascension at the beginning of his second volume because he has realised that the story he is about to tell is actually the story of how the reign Jesus begins to take a hold in the life and ministry of the apostles as they, empowered by His presence, make the new creation a reality.

Winnie the Pooh is right, there may be no hurry….we shall get there someday.  But for those who really incline their heart to waiting on God that someday is now as we watch and wait expectantly we see evidence of the rule and reign of Jesus in us and those around us.