It was wonderful to celebrate Easter with so many of you, the day of resurrection,
a time of great joy – I hope you had at least one Easter Egg. Summer is almost here,
the bluebells are in the woods, and the sun is shining – at least more often than
Of course, Easter isn’t just for one day. In the Churches year we continue to think
about the resurrection of Jesus, and what it means for us, for many weeks to come.
We focus our attention on the book of the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament
– which is like a short history book of the early Church in its first year or two
after Jesus rose and ascended on high.
I do love reading Acts, it is full of amazing stories, with dramatic conversions,
difficult and dangerous escapades, and the relentless spread of the good news of
Jesus Christ, who died on a cross and then rose again from the dead.
It's also the story of the work of the Holy Spirit, from the explosive beginnings
on the day of Pentecost, we see ordinary Christians changed and transformed in their
lives and guided in speaking to their friends and neighbours about Jesus. It's through
simple things like this that the church grew across the known world.
At the beginning of Acts we read an important little verse in Acts 1:14 – “They gathered
frequently to pray as a group, together with the women and with Mary the mother of
Jesus and with his brothers”.
A little later, just before the events of Pentecost we read that they were in one
place together praying when the Holy Spirit came down upon them in power.
At other places, in the selection of a replacement for Judas Iscariot as an apostle,
in the choosing of deacons, in the selection of the team to accompany Paul on his
missionary journeys – even down to the places he visited and who he talks to – it's
all done through prayer.
As we read these accounts in the book of Acts, it's clear that the whole church,
ordinary Christians, felt that praying together was so important to their lives,
and the life of their church. And the result was that they were more united in fellowship
and in harmony with each other and with God – and they found that the church grew
in love, in understanding, and as people were added to their number.
As I reflect on this, there is a lesson for us here at All Saints'. We are a wonderfully
warm and welcoming church, with an active social life and times for fellowship; and
I know that there is a lot of praying going on in the lives of our members. But
I do think we need to be praying more together, and to have this as a more important
and visible part of our church life.
The Archbishops of Canterbury is also encouraging us to give Prayer a higher profile
in our church life. They have launched an initiative called ‘Thy Kingdom Come’.
He is calling on Christians to pray that people might know Jesus Christ during a
focused time between Ascension and Pentecost from 25th May – 4th June 2017.
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 transformed through prayer by the Holy Spirit, finding new confidence
to be witnesses for Jesus Christ
“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
As you know, our church is open every day from 10am to 4pm for people to drop in
for a time of prayer, and during ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ we will be creating some new
ways for visitors to pray in church. I hope that we will encourage visitors to spend
more time in prayer in our beautiful church building.
Across our parish, I hope that our Bible study groups will give a higher focus on
prayer, not just for individual needs, but also for our work and mission in this
I know that not everyone can get to church on a Sunday or to our Bible Study groups,
but we can all take up the challenge to pray in our homes to be part of ‘Thy Kingdom
Echoing the words of Acts 1.14, I think we do need to “gather frequently to pray
as a group” in church or perhaps somewhere else. So often this is the key for churches
to grow in love, in understanding, and in numbers.
Do look out for more information as we draw closer to ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ (25th May
– 4th June), and think about what you can do in your own way to be part of this adventure