St John the Baptist Parish Church

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News from the clergy

Vicar's column- July 2017

Writing in the Church Times, Dr Pete Ward makes the thought provoking suggestion that in the One Love Manchester concert we may have been witnessing an answer to the “Thy Kingdom Come” prayer initiative. During the concert Marley told the crowd: “Love casts out fear”, which has a clear biblical resonance. Then there was the affirmation from Justin Bieber that God is in the midst of darkness. Religious references and themes abound in popular culture if we look. Since then, there has also been the Great Get Together weekend, with street parties and neighbours coming together, in celebration of Jo Cox’s belief that we have more in common. In general, we are witnessing defiance in the face of those who seek to cause fear and division; the enacting of love in response to hatred and killing on the streets.

The Kingdom of God extends beyond the boundaries of the Church. In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We intercede that all may come to live by the values of love, peace, mercy and justice that characterise God’s reign. Mission has often been defined as “finding out what God is doing and joining in”.

Of course in addition to loving our neighbour, the scriptures teach that we should love God, the One who has the power to heal and unite us, with all our hearts. Prayer is the gateway into this love relationship; prayer aligns us with God’s purposes. It is the life blood of the church. It is important that we prioritise it individually and corporately. In our autumn course this year we will explore some of the mystics teaching on prayer. Bishop Andrew, the Bishop of Reading, wrote in a recent diocesan mailing:

“Prayer lies at the heart of who we are. It is in prayer that we know that we are always held in God’s loving gaze, and it is in that gaze that we are changed and it is out of that prayer that the world can be transformed. This is what we do and what we’re about.”

In these troubled times, may we find a sure anchor in God and an openness to embrace those beyond our doors.

Rev Lisa Cornwell