From the vicar
Last month I wrote about the use of intercession and how it might be more effective through the practice of intentional prayer. I wrote, of myself, that I might take more time to reflect and ask for specific things for people, organisations and situations. This month I would like to offer some thoughts for specific intercession. The list is not exhaustive and it is also reflects my concerns and priorities which might be different from yours.
Intercession for evangelism and an increase in the numbers of those seeking the faith, making a commitment to it and joining us for worship seems to me to be central to Christian prayer. Asking for God’s blessing on such things follows naturally and inevitably from the phrase, ‘thy kingdom come’ in the Lord’s Prayer. Requests in prayer around this subject are at one level quite simple: we want more people to know Jesus and to find their salvation in him. There are significant subsidiary matters for prayer in this area though. These are focussed around what sort of country we live in and what sort of country we want it to be. In what sense is this still a Christian nation and can we any longer talk of Christendom? If the answer is to be ‘no’, is that what we want, is that what God wants and what can be done about it. The question is important because for many decades and longer there has been a tacit assumption within central or Broad Church Anglicanism that everyone is Christian because they live here and learnt about it at school. If that was true once it is certainly not true now. Again if the answer is ‘no’, the Church of England is still an established church and the nation undeniably has a Christian foundation going back to pre-Conquest monarchs like Oswald, Alfred and Edward the Confessor and continuing through the late Middle Ages when England was considered by the faithful to be Mary’s dowry and on to the Erastianism of post-reformation polity. There are many tensions here, both constitutional and ecclesiastical, and it would be as well to be aware of them before public debate starts before the next coronation. I have been thinking a lot about all of these things, especially since the Jubilee celebrations, and must add them to my prayers also.
The renewal of the Church is also a worthy subject of intercession. The Church of England is a tired body of Christians beset by the burdens of weak leadership and decline. Earnest intercession needs to be offered for three things. The first is obvious and is always a subject of prayer and that is the need for the gifts of the Spirit, that the life of the Church may be fruitful (Galatians 5: 22-23) and that ministry may be effective (1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4: 11-13). The second is a need to rediscovery Jesus whose church this is. It beggars belief that Jesus should need rediscovering, but as I have written before, during the pandemic he did not get a mention. It seems that the managerial church has little need of him. The third is the rediscovery of the importance of teaching and doctrine. Many of us were well taught in our youth and I suspect that we have all learnt much doctrine through the hymns we sing (and possibly the odd sermon and a book or two). The urgency of this was impressed upon me by a recent press release from Lambeth Palace which stated that ‘God is an important part of the Trinity’. Further comment is not required.
I would also like to offer intercession for the future of ecumenism, a subject I have written about quite recently. It has played a central part in my Christian life since I was an undergraduate and I have put a lot of effort into it over the years, but the ecumenical movement, like the Church of England, is also tired and faces an uncertain future. Jesus prayed that we might all be one and there is no excuse for us not to pray alike.
Finally, a thought for the Coming of Christ. The prayer, ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ was an integral part of the life of the early church (for example 1 Corinthians 16: 22). It is about having both an awareness of Jesus’ presence which determines all that we do, and a desire for the fulfilment of the Kingdom. The desire embraces both the present and the future. It is a simple prayer and yet a fundamental one.
I will leave you with an extract from a prayer to Our Lady of Walsingham:
Pray, O Holy Mother of God, for the conversion of England, restoration of the sick, consolation for the afflicted, repentance of sinners, peace to the departed. O blessed Mary, Mother of God, our Lady of Walsingham, intercede for us. Amen.
But don’t just leave it to our Lady!
Sunday 28th August Trinity 11
Wednesday 31st August, 10.00am Mass (St. Aidan, Bishop, Missionary)
Friday 2nd September, 7.00pm Mass
Sunday 4th September Trinity 12
…no midweek services – Father Andrew on retreat
Sunday 11th September Trinity 13
In addition to services at 8am and 9.30am: Family Service at 11.15am
Wednesday 14th September, 10.00am Mass (Triumph of the Holy Cross)
Friday 16th September, 7.00pm Mass (St. Ninian, Bishop, Apostle to the Picts)
Saturday 17th September, 7.00pm Quiz Night (see below)
Sunday 18th September Trinity 14
Tuesday 20th September, 8.00pm Meeting of the Guild of the Servants of the Sanctuary
Wednesday 21st September, 10.00am Mass (St. Matthew, Apostle)
8.00pm Parochial Church Council in the Parish Hall
Sunday 25th September Trinity 15
Wednesday 28th September, 10.00am Mass
Thursday 29th September, 10.00am Mass (St. Michael and All Angels)
8.00pm Holy Hour with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
Friday 30th September, 7.00pm Mass
Sunday 2nd October Trinity 16
Back after an absence of two long years!
Saturday 17th September 2022, 7.00pm in St Peter’s Parish Hall.
Cost £12.50 per head to include either Fish n Chips, Chicken n Chips or Vegetarian Burger n Chips.
Bring your own drinks.
Tables of max. 8 people, but individuals are most welcome and will be allocated a suitable table to join.
Full payment required by Sunday 11th September 2022 to Ranjan David (020 8950 1822).
All proceeds towards St Peter’s roof repairs so please support.
The annual meeting is scheduled for the evening of Thursday November 17th at the Bushey United Synagogue when the discussion will be on ‘Prayer in the pandemic – how we coped with Covid19’.
5th June Hadrian Adam Taylor
24th July Cariad Maria Newbitt-Jones
William John Newbitt-Jones