It was very interesting for us to reflect at our recent Annual Church Meeting on this last year. While the year was challenging in so many ways, as we recounted all we’ve done in church, I was left with a great feeling of admiration for the way in which we responded to the challenges of covid: for the commitment, creativity, faithfulness and resilience of our church people. I think I’ve said in these pages on numerous occasions that while our buildings were closed for much of the year, church was very much ‘open for business’ in all sorts of new and different ways.
I set out how I think that an important task for the year ahead will involve working out how we flourish as God’s church and how we help our local communities to flourish in light of the impact of the pandemic. I believe that we can only do that if we seek God’s guidance, strength, & inspiration. I therefore used our annual meeting to make a call to prayer to the people in our church community – so that prayer underpins all we’re seeking to be and to do as God’s church in the times ahead. To help us in call, in the coming months, there will be a number of ways that we will encourage and support prayer: with resources, with a preaching series in church and with particular invitations to pray at different points of the year.
And so, at this time, I want to make the first of those invitations: I want to invite you over the summer to choose three people and to pray for them by name each day. You might want to choose one person who you know well, one you do not know well, one who is far away. There may be a range of things you want to include in your prayers for these three. It might include that each will come to know more of God’s presence in their lives; you’ll find further suggestions to help you in your prayer for the three later in this magazine.
We’ve also created some little cards (enclosed with the magazine) to encourage us in this prayer – you might put the card somewhere as a reminder to continue in your prayer. You might pass on one of the cards to someone to ask them also to take part. I do hope you’ll feel able to accept this invitation.
My call to us all in the weeks and months ahead is to renew our commitment to pray: to seek God’s guidance, inspiration & support as we all continue to navigate our response to the pandemic both individually and corporately as God’s church. The prayer for Pentecost printed below might be something you could include in your daily personal prayer as part of taking up that call:
‘Holy Spirit, sent by the Father, ignite in us your holy fire;
strengthen your children with the gift of faith,
revive your Church with the breath of love, and renew the face of the earth,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.’
With my continued prayers and very best wishes.