Thy Kingdom come” – these familiar words from the Lord’s Prayer form the title of the Archbishops’ vision for a wave of prayer starting on Ascension Day May 25th until the feast of Pentecost on June 4th this year. Last year we had prayer stations in St Mary’s church and prayer walks around various parts of the parish starting with an Ascension Day walk and pray. I also undertook prayer runs around as much of the parish boundary as I could….it nearly killed me but I enjoyed it! This year we will once again join in prayer for “Thy Kingdom Come” in what has become a global enterprise and not just something for Anglicans.
Why do we do it? Good question. Is this just another sound bite initiative? The Archbishop of Canterbury reminds us that after Jesus ascended into heaven, the disciples went to Jerusalem and prayed for the coming of the Holy Spirit. The vision behind Thy Kingdom Come is to do just what these first Christians did – to pray, in faith, that the Holy Spirit would come and lead the way in witness and evangelism. We know the Spirit always comes when we ask. Our prayer, “Come, Holy Spirit” at Pentecost doesn’t just stop with ourselves. We pray this so that we can be empowered for witness. Martin Luther gave us a definition of sin as the heart curved in on itself. You can apply that to the church – it can curve in on itself. The Spirit comes to un-self us, to turn us inside out.
Archbishop Justin Welby in a recent interview said, “The priority of evangelism and witness isn’t measured by a tick list or the amount of committee meetings we’ve had, or the number of initiatives that have been launched. It is measured by the lives that have begun to be transformed by the love of Jesus Christ. It is about changing neighbourhoods, one life at a time. A natural part of what we do as a church should be activities which introduce people to Jesus – to pray for them to hear his call for themselves and become his disciples. It’s not about initiatives and projects – proclaiming Jesus Christ is what we’re about. For me, some of the most wonderful moments of the last four years have been when I’ve been present to see people make commitments of faith. I think that above all the idea of evangelism is becoming accepted as a natural part of Christian living.”
So that is why we do it. As a Diocese and a deanery and a parish we are encouraged to shape ourselves and our churches so that lives and communities are transformed by the love of Jesus Christ. That mindset is also what the LYCIG (Leading your church into growth) approach seeks to embed in the culture of each local church. This will raise many issues for us as a community of faith. It is not meant to break us down but build us up. The relationships we form within the church community and with the wider community are key. The way we love one another even though we may disagree over some issues and preferences are fundamental. If we resist the Spirit who comes to un-self us and turn us inside out, we shouldn’t be surprised that in our generation our numbers dwindle and we are not seen having anything relevant to say in this modern age.
As Archbishop Justin has said “People will listen when they see functional, welcoming and honest communities encountering all the problems we all do, but encountering them in the strength of Jesus. The challenge remains to find the confidence to witness. Hence, Thy Kingdom Come”.
There are many ways of joining in prayer as individuals and in groups or as a family…now there’s a thought.
For resources and ideas see www.thykingdomcome.global. So with Christians across the world, will you be praying “thy kingdom come”? That prayer is possible, God’s kingdom will come, because Jesus lives, as Lord and King, forever. So let us pray with fresh energy and conviction in this special season, knowing that our prayers really do usher in the kingdom of Jesus.
…… proclaiming Jesus Christ is what we’re about. …...