|The Lord’s Prayer, Part 1.
I always think that this prayer should be called the Disciples’ Prayer; it was the
prayer given by Jesus to His followers when they asked Him to teach them how to pray.
They had seen in Jesus a depth and quality of prayer and of relationship to God that they
wanted for themselves. In asking Jesus to teach them how to pray they were asking Him
how their own lives could be lived with the same trust in God that they recognised in Him.
And so this prayer begins:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
For Jesus God in not simply a Creator to honour and a Lord to obey; He is above all else a
Father. The word used by Jesus is Abba which is best translated as ‘Dad’.
Most people have the idea that all religions contain the same basic teaching about God.
But even the most basic research shows that this is not true. Jesus was the first person who
related to God as His Dad; and He taught us that God is our Dad too; that the creator and
sustainer of the universe loves us. He calls us His children and He wants us to
live our lives as His children.
The most basic fact about any one of us is that we are loved with a depth and
a passion that is beyond our understanding. This fact is the foundation on which
we build our lives; it gives us the confidence to face life in a world that is often
very far from what God made it to be.
It gives us a security from which we can face life and all of its challenges.
The love of God is a fundamental fact: it isn’t something that we have to earn;
it isn't conditional; it isn't something that we deserve.
God’s love, our Father’s love, just is. How we respond to this love is important,
but before our response is the basic truth:
that we are loved deeply, passionately and eternally.
The second line of this prayer is the beginning of our response to the Father’s love:
“hallowed be your name”; “may your name be honoured.”
As soon as we have prayed this we can immediately see the ways and the places
where God’s name is not honoured. We can also see the ways in which we,
by our thoughts and words and actions, are not honouring God.
And so we have something to do; a practical offshoot of our prayer life.
As we honour God in our lives so we are living more as His children.
As we follow this disciples’ prayer in the next few months, we will see that it is
not just a prayer to say; it is a prayer to live.
We are here to help people love and worship God.
We aim to be, and encourage others to become, committed and active disciples of Jesus,
who love God and worship him, who know the power of the Holy Spirit and who show
God’s love in every part of their lives.
|Prayer for the month
|Thought for the month
|Below you will find extracts from this month's Parish Magazine
First Words..., A Prayer for the Month & A Thought for the Month
|Spring has finally arrived with bluebells and blossom.
It is a real joy to get up early at this time of the year and get out with my two dogs,
Tara and Oscar.
Another sign of the arrival of Spring is the increasing number of
Wedding and Baptism enquiries that are coming in!
It is good to be in a place where people from the wider community still want to come to
Church for their wedding or for a ‘Christening’. Often families comment on the warm
welcome that they have received from the Church family when they come to make a
booking or come along to hear their banns being called.
The ‘pastoral offices’ of Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals are important for the
Church of England; in fact they are the reason why we can call ourselves the
National Church (rather than the fact that some of our bishops sit in the house of Lords).
These are the main way in which we relate to the wider community.
We are a parish church, not a congregational church.
We exist to serve every person who lives in the parish;
and every person has the right to call on the ministry of their Parish Church.
Over the past few years the Church of England has commissioned some serious
research into the experiences of people when they come to their local church on these
I hope that we can engage with this research and discover how we can better be
a Church that, in the words of Archbishop William Temple, exists for
the benefit of those who are not ‘members’.
In the next few weeks I will be gathering a small group of people to review our
Baptism policy; next year we will do the same thing with funerals and the
following year with weddings.
This will build on the work done at the end of April seeking
God’s vision for St Mary’s in the coming years.
One change that I want us to consider is how we can begin to do most of the baptisms in the
main service. Although this may bring some disruption, it is a way in which we as a church
family can welcome the wider community and celebrate with them.
Baptism is not just a private family occasion.
The children that we baptise are baptised into the Church.
They become part of the Body of Christ here at St Mary’s.
It is always our hope and prayer that the families who come along will make this their
spiritual home and will become active worshippers and members of the Church.
The service is an opportunity for the whole Church family to welcome
and encourage the newly baptised, and it is a way for every one of us to respond
to Jesus call to “make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of
the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
When we fulfil Jesus’ call we can claim His promise to be with us always,
“to the end of time” (Matthew 28:20).
Baptism matters to us because people matter to God.
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|After Lent, Holy week and Easter, May is a relatively quiet month.
During May there will be quite a number of weddings in church please pray for
the couples who are to be married here in the coming year, and do say ‘Hello’ when
they come along to hear their banns called on Sunday mornings.
In the week leading up to the 12th and 13th of May it is the ‘May Queens’.
Although I am not sure what it involves I am looking forward to welcoming them into
Church and celebrating the life of our community.
Towards the end of May we will be hosting a joint Ascension Day service
(Thursday 25th May, 7.30pm).
We will be welcoming our neighbours from Chapeltown and Grenoside.
Ascension Day marks the end of Easter season when Jesus, having spent
40 days with the disciples returned to the Father.
The Archbishop Canterbury, Justin Welby, has called upon the Church to hold
special time of prayer in the days from Ascension to Pentecost (25th May to 4the June).
He has called us to pray for renewal in the Churches of this land and to pray for
the nation. As this falls in the lead up to the general election, our prayers for Great Britain
will be even more important.
The Archbishop calls this invitation to prayer “Thy kingdom Come”.
The focus of our prayers for both the church and there nation is
‘God’s will done here on earth as in heaven’.
We hope to have prayer-events happening in Church on every day during this time.
Look out for more information.