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Thy Kingdom Come, Wednesday 31st May

Wednesday, 31st May – #Pledge2Pray #Help

The Most Rev. John Sentamu
Archbishop of York and Primate of England

‘Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord.’
Let us bring our needs before God, opening ourselves to God’s Love.

Short video from Archbishop Sentamu: https://vimeo.com/218485077

Short Thy Kingdom Come Video: https://vimeo.com/217821042

Thy Kingdom Come – Tuesday 30th May

Tuesday, 30th May – #Pledge2Pray #PrayFor​

The Most. Rev. Fred Hiltz
Archbishop and Primate, the Anglican Church of Canada

“Blessed are the poor in spirit”
We bring the needs of others before God.

A short video from Archbishop Hiltz: https://vimeo.com/218483277

A short video from Thy Kingdom Come: https://vimeo.com/217821053

Thy Kingdom Come

I have been sharing Thy Kingdom Come posts on the church Facebook page but didn’t think to post it here! So I’m starting with today – Better late than never…

 

Monday, 29th May – #Pledge2Pray #Offer

The Rt. Rev. Griselda Delgado del Carpio
Bishop of Cuba

‘God loves a cheerful giver.’
Let us offer our whole selves and work for the purposes of God.

(Two Videos Below)

A short video from Bishop Griselda: https://vimeo.com/218623586

A short Thy Kingdom Come video: https://vimeo.com/217821068

“22 killed and 120 injured” – Evil and Prayer

“22 killed and 120 injured”, that’s what I read online earlier today. Those words are terrible enough, but then I remembered that it was young women and girls that had been targeted. I wanted to weep but no tears came. Then I heard that there are young people in this town that have friends who have been injured in Manchester, or who were there. It could so easily have been one of our own, and that made me go cold inside.

God’s people tolled the church bell in Harleston and we, together with lots of people from the town, joined the country in a minute’s silence. Money has gone into buckets to help the families of those affected. But none of it seems enough. When faced with such a stark reminder of the evil in this world, more is needed.

I turned to the internet, the source of so much information, and I found myself staring at the words, “at least 28 people, including children, have been killed and 25 wounded in a gun attack on a bus carrying Coptic Christians in the al-Idwah district outside Minya, south of Cairo.” More pain, loss and suffering; more evil.

Things seem so out of control, and when that happens I turn to the one who can bring peace and order back again. I have stopped to pray, to listen to God and to wait for what the Spirit says. This may sound like a cop out, but to me it is the most practical thing to do. In the face of such horror, what better thing can I do that to turn to the one who is all peace? I need to be reminded of the true values of this world before I react. I need the Father’s love to be my foundation. If I don’t wait on God, I know from experience that I will go wrong; that I follow evil with evil.

Looking to the Bible, I read that when Jesus left the first disciples they were unsure and afraid. Then we’re told that, “they went upstairs to the room where they had been staying. The apostles often met together and prayed with a single purpose in mind. The women and Mary the mother of Jesus would meet with them, and so would his brothers.” (Acts 1.13-14) They prayed and they waited together.

They prayed and waited for God to guide them, then ten days later the Spirit came to them and 3,000 people joined them in just one day. I have the Spirit of God in me, so I wait now for the Spirit to guide me, and all of Christ’s people, in the right way to speak and act.

Now I hear a whisper in the back of my mind, “Why turn to the God who let this happen?” The simple answer, “I don’t!”

I turn to the God who repeatedly warns us of the effects of turning away from him. I turn to the God who warns of the dangers of human evil, like that in Manchester. I turn to the God who gives all people the freedom to even ask that question. I turn to the God leads me and anyone who comes to him away from evil.

I wait on God because from long experience I know that I can so easily do and say evil things, things that hurt, and knock down. I desperately don’t want there to be even the slightest likeness between what I think and do, and what that terrorist thought and did. So I turn to turn to Jesus who promises to fill me with his love. I know I need it! I wait and actively listen for the Spirit’s voice guiding me.

I pray many prayers, mostly chatty, but among them I pray the Lord’s Prayer. I see evil and I pray, “Thy Kingdom Come”. I pray “Thy Kingdom Come” to this country. I pray for “Thy Kingdom (to) Come” into the hearts of all God’s people, so that we can live the way of love, and show all people that it works. I pray for “Thy Kingdom (to) Come” into the lives of those who don’t yet know God so that they could share the love and joy and peace that I know to be the marks of “Thy Kingdom”. As the election approaches I pray for “Thy Kingdom (to) Come” and look for the party and leader that will best lead this country away from violent evil towards greater peace, love, and reconciliation.

When Jesus left those first disciples he promised to return. So I pray, “Thy Kingdom Come” fully and everywhere. I pray, “Come Lord Jesus,” come back and sort out this messed-up world.

I pray and wait. I wait and pray, then I act in the Spirit; I try to do and say loving things, things that build up and encourage.

Then I pray again, “Thy Kingdom Come.”

Amen.

A prayer following the evil attack in Manchester earlier today:

A prayer following the evil attack in Manchester earlier today:

Lord, be with the families, and friends of those who have been injured or killed. Give your comfort to those who are grieving or afraid, and your healing to those who are injured. For those who have died, “Rest eternal grant unto them O Lord. And let light perpetual shine upon them.”

This was an act of evil, designed to breed evil. Father, fill us with your Spirit so that the anger that burns in us now is directed to your work of love, and never allowed to pollute us with hate.

In Jesus name, Amen.

The God of the Grey – A Faith Worth Sharing

I’ve been thinking about “Thy Kingdom Come“. The word’s from the Lord’s Prayer that are the guide to the time of prayer between Ascension (25th May) and Pentecost (4th June). Thy Kingdom Come will be an exciting time for the people in the churches here, and around the world. I’ve copied information about it below.

The Christian faith is something very special so I’m very happy to share it with others. Faith is intimate; Jesus (himself) said, “those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” (John 14.21) But so many people don’t see that.  The see words, written words, and spoken words, and they miss all the rest.  Even some Christians get lost in the fog of words and lose sight of the Risen Lord. If I am to share a faith, it needs to be the true faith; a faith that is fit for the good times and for the sad.

The Christian faith is wonderful, but that doesn’t mean that everything will wonderful, all of the time, once you’ve become a Christian. Last week I found myself drawing alongside a number of people for whom life was grey. They had faith but life for them is sad, grey, even despairing. This is a reality.

Their grey times have forced me to look for hope in sadness. I looked for an enthusiasm for life that I could share or at least that would provide me with the inner resources that I needed. I feel strong and full of life, but to be of any use I needed to go back to times in the past when I have felt like them.

You see the grey times are like a spiritual fog.  They smother the brightness and vibrancy of life.  Nothing has really changed but it is as though someone has turned down the brightness and colour settings.  There is no immediate threat but as the colour drains from the world so enthusiasm for life drains:  Drains slowly, almost imperceptibly.

I remember saying the words, the prayers, and reading the words of scripture, while needing more. In the grey times I needed to find hope:  Hope to give me the sure footing I need to carry on through and out of the spiritual fog.

I remember finding this hope shot through the words of the Bible. It was not the words themselves that brought hope.  It was the ideas and realities that the Spirit brought to life up from the dry words; it was when the dry words were watered that they brought hope.

Looking back, it is one set of words from Acts (17.22-31) that has often been the source of hope for me (God) “himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, ………, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; ………., ‘For we too are his offspring’.”

These are the words I need for the grey times!  Times when it feels as though I’m groping along trying to find my way, my hope and my life. Even in the grey, God is with me, in me; and not just words, but God himself.

Faced with the grey sadness of others, I went back into my past, to find the resources that God had given me. I did that and felt the strong presence of God within me, making me whole, complete and, yes happy. I found myself smiling. Then a further memory came back as a warning.

I also remembered the pressure to be cheerful through the greyness. I remembered how painful it was when people tried to cheer me up or tried to get me to “look on the bright side”. They meant well but it just made it all worse. I felt guilty for not making them feel better. I remembered the pressure to be bright and confident, as though not being cheerful meant there was something wrong with my faith.

But that simply is not true.  At times strong Christians, with a real faith, will feel as though they are groping forward.  Or feel as though they are groping around aimlessly without direction. It may feel like that when I am in that fog but that doesn’t make my faith any less real.   It doesn’t make my faith any less strong.  In fact a real, strong faith has little, if anything, to do with what other people might think.  Real faith is about experiencing all that life gives; the highs, the lows, and the grey misty plain.

It is real faith that holds me close to God through all these times, whether I feel Him there or not.

Going back to Paul’s sermon in Acts once again, “he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; ………., ‘For we too are his offspring’.”

That is what faith is about.  Faith describes the bond I have with my Father, ‘For we too are his offspring’.   It is my faith that reminds me that God is my Father and Mother, that Jesus is my brother, and that the Spirit is in me all the time.

After all, “he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’.  Words brought to life by the Spirit:  That have power when I act on them and feel their reality.

So God is in me and around even when I feel in a fog. God is in those that I drew alongside this week, in just the same way. God is with here in the grey times, just as much as when we are happy, bouncy and enthusiastic.

These are not just words:  These word bring life.  These words give birth to faith; real faith, living faith.

A faith worth sharing.

God bless,

Nigel.

——————–

From the Thy Kingdom Come website:

Thy Kingdom Come

https://www.thykingdomcome.global/about

Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement, which invites Christians around the world to pray between Ascension and Pentecost for more people to come to know Jesus Christ. What started out as an invitation from the Archbishops’ of Canterbury and York in 2016 to the Church of England has grown into an international and ecumenical call to prayer.

The hope is that:

*   people will commit to pray with God’s world-wide family – as a church, individually or as a family;
*   churches will hold prayer events, such as 24-7 prayer, prayer stations and prayer walks, across the UK and in other parts of the world;
*   people will be empowered through prayer by the Holy Spirit, finding new confidence to be witnesses for Jesus Christ.

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses …to the ends of the earth. When he had said this…he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight…Then they returned to Jerusalem … and were constantly devoting themselves to prayer…
    When the day of Pentecost had come they were all together in one place… All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit… and that day about three thousand persons were added.” Acts 1,2

“In praying ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ we all commit to playing our part in the renewal of the nations and the transformation of communities.”
Archbishop Justin Welby

Don’t let your heart be troubled

Jesus says to me, “Don’t be worried.” (John 14.1) But it is. I can’t help it. I get troubled by so many things. Things close to me, things far away. I pondered that for a moment and I remembered the service last Sunday where the children told us all about Julian of Norwich. I remember the hazelnut and how God holds all creation in the palm of his hand:

“And in this he showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazel nut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed. And it was as round as any ball. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, ‘What may this be?’ And it was answered generally thus, ‘It is all that is made.’ I marveled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it. And so have all things their beginning by the love of God.
In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it. The second that God loves it. And the third, that God keeps it.” (Revelations of Divine Love)

I remember probably the most famous saying of all:

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” (Revelations of Divine Love)

Then I do what I should have done right at the beginning and I read the rest of what Jesus had to say:

Jesus said to his disciples, “Don’t be worried! Have faith in God and have faith in me.(John 14.1)

“Have faith”, that’s what I needed to hear. I needed to be reminded that I serve God. He is in charge. I can plan, I can work but ultimately the outcomes are all in his hand. It can be scary but I need to let go and trust. I try. I can’t. I’m holding on too tightly to MY responsibilities. I stop trying now. I ask the Spirit to come in. I feel the weight falling away. In ways that defy logic I, like Mother Julian, know without a doubt that, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”

How honest should I be?

How honest should I be? It may seem like a pointless question. Obviously a Christian should always tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Or should they? The whole truth?

This question was prompted by an article by Revd. Anthony Freeman that I read a day or so ago. Freeman hit the headlines in 1993-4 with in his theological book  “God in us”. There was one phrase that got him into real trouble. The phrase was this “I do not believe in God”.  He was  subsequently sacked by his bishop. “A good thing,” you might say. But I disagree. You see, what he actually said was this, “Only when I accepted that “I do not believe in God” (my old god) was I free to discover how with integrity I could still say “I believe in God” (understood in a new way).” I can’t say that I agree with his views on God but I can’t help feeling sympathetic towards Freeman. His crime was simply to inquire into the depths of faith and question what he found. Should he have been so honest?

How many false images and understandings of God do I still cling to? How honest should I be?

I have found that it is doubts and questions that have led to a stronger, deeper faith. Also, there is no point lying to God, he knows anyway. So when I have questions or doubts it is to God that they go. I then wait and let the Spirit guide me. I turn back to the Bible, particularly any passages that might have sparked the questions, and I stay there. I read the words, read what others have said, and again, wait for the Spirit to lift the words off the page.

I question the faith every day. I question what I believe and why I believe it. I have no choice. Only through questioning what I have been taught can the faith passed down have any effect on me; never mind transform me as it should. God has given us inquiring minds and we should use them. With an inquiring mind I shouldn’t be afraid of doubts and questions, neither should I let them have the last word.

To get back to my question: How honest should I be? For me the answer has to be, “as honest as I can possibly be.” So be honest with yourself. Allow yourself to question and inquire into the faith and make faith your own. Let it transform you!

Poems for Eastertide

The amazing events of that first Easter have changed the world forever. Death has been defeated and there is a subtle change in the very fabric of reality. But such things are too great for me. For me it is the difference to everyday life that often hits me most. It is the hope that transforms the ordinary and the mundane, a meal perhaps, that reminds me that it is here and now that I am to live my hope. This next poem, captures this and much, much more:

Snow on Easter Day

(Vivienne Tuffnell)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hallowed-Hollow-Vivienne-Tuffnell/dp/1544615779

Wet white feathers

Falling ceaselessly,

Vanishing into sodden earth;

Silent whispers of air

As each flake passes.

Fragrance surrounds me,

Orange blossom and musk.

The taste of bread and wine

Linger on my lips,

An odour of sanctity

A feeling of peace

Pervades the house

As we prepare lunch.

Ghosts of Easters past

Haunt but do not hurt us.

Today, we begin anew.

Easter is not so much an event as it is a way of life. A way of life filled with the risen Jesus. A life of being Jesus here and now; made possible by the power of the Spirit. The poem that follows was inspired after Viv watched an actor paid to play the part of Jesus walk among crowds at a festival:

Jesus walks among us

(Vivienne Tuffnell)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hallowed-Hollow-Vivienne-Tuffnell/dp/1544615779

I know he’s only an actor

Playing his appointed role,

But can I be the only one

Who felt my heart lift to see

Those sandalled feet among us,

The archaic robes shabby in sunlight

And the dark curls of beard

Twitch with a smile as he passed?

Am I the only one to ask

A terrified “What if?” and wonder

If it might truly be Him

Walking among the crowds,

Still alone and set apart

Even when thousands press round?

Of course, I know full well

He’s only an actor doing

What his role demands of him,

But still my heart sings

As my mind asks, “What if?”

Maybe that could be me or you? What if indeed!

St George – A saint for a violent world

Some years ago, when visiting the British Museum, I took two pictures of an Ethiopian Christian icon from the early 20th Century showing St. George protecting the Emperor (second picture, below), complete with traditional spear. But there is something different about this St. George, he is also carrying a rifle.  Generally if saints or angels are shown to be warlike they are shown in romantic armour, with swords and lances.  This hides the real sense of brooding violence that these images should convey.  We see the weapons and think of gentle knights from a Pre-Raphaelite painting like The Vigil by John Pettie. But in reality they are ready to fight, ready to explode into the sort of violence that we, thankfully, are unlikely to be able to even imagine!

This image of St. George, complete with rifle, reminds me of the uncomfortable reality of violence, in this world and beyond. This is something that, when abandoned by the Christian faith, makes that faith unreal. This refusal to accept reality as it is diminishes true faith, relegating a noble religion to the realm of fantasy. When all around me is dark with terror and violence, I for one am not looking to have some simpering saint by my side! No, I call upon the Spirit of power, Yahweh Armies, Gabriel the Archangel and a saint like George.

I pray for peace in England, …. and keep the powder dry!

God bless.