‘Thy Kingdom Come’ is a global movement of prayer that started in 2016 with an invitation from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. They invited people to spend the days between Ascension Day and Pentecost praying for more people to come to know Jesus. After the very first Ascension Day, Jesus’ disciples gathered with Mary to pray as they waited for the promised Holy Spirit. Like them, our reliance on the gift of the Holy Spirit is total – on our own we can do nothing.
Over the last few years, 65 Christian denominations in 114 countries have taken up this invitation to pray. Whether you have done so before or not, why not consider this invitation to pray this year between Thursday 30th May and Sunday 9th June? Choose 5 people (or how ever many you choose) and ask God to be with them and to be at work in their lives. The prayer of the worldwide Church during this time is that people’s faith in Jesus will be deepened and prayer will be part of all of our lives. Visit www.thykingdomcome.global for ways of praying, resources, and much more. Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be Done.
Sharing the Love of Jesus
May 24th is listed in the Anglican Lectionary as John Wesley Day. John was the elder brother of Charles, the prolific Hymn Writer. May 24th is not his actual birthday but his ‘Spiritual Birthday’.
In 1738 his life changed forever. He had been a Priest for about 10 years, but found it unsatisfying despite working hard. On May 24th 1738 he was invited to a house meeting in Aldersgate in London, which he reluctantly accepted. Whilst someone was reading from the writings of Martin Luther the German reformer, his world changed. He wrote in his journal: “I felt strangely warmed by the love of God. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for Salvation, for an assurance that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of death and sin.” This inspired him to a renewed life in Christ and he spent the next 50 years riding up and down the country sharing the love of Christ. He not only preached but spent time practising what Christ had asked – raising money to help the poor, building schools; he opened the first free clinic and dispensary, caring for bodies as well as souls.
We cannot hope to do the same work as John but we can ask God to help us know and experience God’s love for us, as John did on that day in 1738.
Are you good at making decisions? Depending on what the decision is, it might take next to no time to decide, or it might take a bit longer, and require a bit more thought. Perhaps one decision that you’ve been considering recently is “what am I going to do for Lent?”
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (6th March), starting six weeks of anticipation and preparation for Easter. Sometimes people choose to give something up for Lent – chocolate, tea or coffee, alcohol, or whatever it might be. Others choose to take something up – reducing consumption of plastic or volunteering somewhere new, making an extra effort to pray or read the Bible. Once again, so many options. Why have people marked Lent in this way for so many generations?
It’s not about making ourselves feel miserable or trying to do Lent “better” than anyone else, but perhaps it’s more about stepping out of normal life for a little while. By giving up something that is part of our everyday or taking up something that might stretch us out of our comfort zone a bit, life is lived differently and we might start to learn more about what our priorities are or what they should be. Perhaps we will have space to consider the difference between what we want and what we need. Maybe it will be something completely different and we will be totally surprised at the journey of Lent this year.
No matter what we decide about how we’re going to mark Lent or where the journey takes us this year, perhaps we could ask God to help us make space for what he has for us this Lent, both as a whole community and as individuals?
At the beginning of February, I will take down the last of the Christmas decorations. It’s not because I’m forgetful, but I do use them to remind myself that the celebration of Christmas lasts for 40 days, even if the chocolates don’t. Lent and Easter aren’t too far away, but before we get there, the next few weeks bring us to something the Church calls ‘Ordinary Time’. ‘Ordinary’ is a bit of an unpopular word – sometimes ordinary things are thought to be plain or unexciting. We often want things to be extraordinary or special instead, but we need the ordinary as well.
Ordinary time is ordered or measured time. It is time to live in the present moment, time that is counted and marked not to wish it away or count it down but to savour and enjoy it. Ordinary time celebrates that God is involved in the everyday as well as the extraordinary. Ordinary time makes special times like Christmas or Easter more special. Living for God week-by-week on ordinary days like Monday to Saturday mean that we will approach Sundays differently when we gather together.
The colour of Ordinary Time is green – the colour of growth. Living for God in the everyday helps us to become measured people - people who celebrate the good, grieve the bad, and notice where God is to be found in the ordinary.
Rev. Charles Higgins
Do you like mysteries? Famous detectives unravelling a complicated plot, a group of police tracking down a villain at all costs. Or perhaps you like grappling with a difficult riddle or working to complete a puzzle? Mysteries, real or imagined enthral and intrigue so many. What is a mystery? Some of these things suggest it’s a complicated truth that’s to be grappled with and enjoyed. It’s something with depth that captures us. Maybe we think of mysteries as too complicated to bother with. The Bible uses the word mystery to mean ‘a truth that can only be revealed by God’.
During January the Church celebrates the feast and season of Epiphany. Epiphany means “appearance”. We celebrate Jesus appearing on Earth and that in him God reveals a mystery – he shows us who he is in Jesus. In mystery stories, the central character often has an epiphany as well – a sudden idea that turns the whole case around. We might call it a “light bulb moment”. I wonder if any lightbulb moments stand out in your memory? Over the weeks of Epiphany, we’ll explore some moments where Jesus helped people to realise more of who God is – at his baptism, when he turned water into wine and when he began his ministry.
This year I have been grateful for a lightbulb moment about those wise men that came to visit the infant Jesus and bring him gifts. I had imagined that meeting Jesus brought a great journey of many miles to an end. In one way it did, but really it was the beginning of something that would change the rest of their lives and beyond. When we meet Jesus, when we have those lightbulb moments and realise more about him, that is just the start of a life-changing journey. A very happy new year to you all - let’s look forward to sharing the journey together!
Rev. Charles Higgins
The wonder of Christmas has always been there,
Childhood memories, still fresh in my mind.
Church bells rang out through the cold frosty air,
Smoke from chimneys, spiralled, aligned.
I see dad in the kitchen, our breakfast to cook,
Mum’s there too, Festive food to prepare.
Baubles on the tree, hang hook by hook,
Presents so tempting, with wrapping to tear.
At home, my family, the warmth and the love,
Still fills my heart with such thankfulness
Mum and dad, still close, but now above,
I like to think they are proud of my success.
But those memories of many a Christmas past,
Will forever be with me, as many a day I recall,
Family tales from mum and gran, life wasn’t fast,
Time was slow, but how I loved them telling all.
Grandad and uncle, surplices and robes freshly pressed
To sing in the choir, Bass and Tenor, so gran relates,
Christmas joy it was for them, their voices truly blessed.
I wonder if they know, I followed through their gates.
The miracle that is Christmas, will always be there,
The Babe, to bring light and love to our world,
With thanks to all those that have gone before
I cherish those memories my family unfurled.
Now I have been blessed with grandsons, all three.
Excitement and wonder, for them carries on,
Amidst the bustle, silently, a prayer from me,
To give thanks for one, my miracle, for all to see.