The Lord’s Prayer depicted in art

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Booklet by Lesley Shatwell

Cover photo: “Waves, Dunbar” (LS 2010)         “It is impossible to overstate the life-transforming power of the Lord’s Prayer … When we pray it with sincerity and with joy, there is no imagining the new ways in which God can use us to his glory.”

These words are from a letter from the Archbishops of York and Canterbury to all parishes in the Church of England.  Today, they are encouraging us to be part of a great wave of prayer through our country and in response, we have put together this exhibition.

We hope that you will find it thought-provoking and that it will encourage you to think of the Lord’s Prayer in a fresh light.

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place.  When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say:

Father,

hallowed be your name,

thy kingdom come …”

(Luke 11:1-3)

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Original artwork by Beki Blade        Our Father, who art in heaven

The Lord’s Prayer starts with the words, “Our Father …”.  That’s a very personal way of addressing God.  We can’t choose our family, but God has chosen us to be His family.  That’s all of us, not just those people we like.  By praying, “Our Father,” we become part of God’s family.

“We are family – all of us.  We belong in God’s family.  There are no outsiders.  All are insiders.  …  all of us drawn into the divine embrace that excludes no-one – black, yellow, white, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, male, female, young, old, gay, lesbian, so-called straight – yes it IS radical.  All, all, ALL belong” 

(God’s Dream: Sermon delivered by Desmond Tutu at the

Chapel of King’s College, London: Sunday 22 February 2004)

Sometimes, our own memories or feelings towards our earthly dads have an influence on the way we view God.  Is it easy for you to think of God as our Heavenly Father?  If you had to rewrite the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer, how would you start?  Who is it you are addressing?

And, come to that, “Who art in heaven …” where’s heaven?

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Original artwork by Lesley Shatwell

If we hallow something, we honour it as holy.

Your name be holy.

In the Bible, God spoke to Moses from a burning bush, a bush which burned with holy fire without consuming the bush.

“God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’  This is my name for ever,  and this my title for all generations.”

Does God have another name, other than just, “God”?

It’s tricky to translate God’s name from its original Old Hebrew YHWH.  It has no vowels, you can’t really speak it.  Old Hebrew was a bit vague on tenses too, so we don’t know quite whether God’s name is “I am who I am” or “I am who I will be” or “I will be that I am” or …?

“Hallowed be Thy name.” A name so holy you can’t speak it.

But we can think it.

And we can use the shorthand version: “God”

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Original artwork by Stewart Dakers         Thy kingdom come, thy will be done

“Thy will be done” … That’s Thy will, not my will.  How would things be if we lived always within God’s will?

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be selfevident, that all men are created equal.’”

On 28 August 1963, Martin Luther King shared his dream of God’s kingdom on earth.

Here in Britain, there are plenty of things we take for granted.  We have access to health care – when the NHS was launched in July 1948, it was based on three core principles:

  • that it meets the needs of everyone
  • that it is free at the point of delivery
  • that it is based on clinical need, not ability to pay

Our fragile, God-given world is divided between the haves and the have nots.  Martin Luther King’s dream of equality and the founding principles of the NHS point the way to a better society.

Today, what can we do to hasten God’s kingdom here on earth?

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Original artwork by Peter Paterson         On earth as it is in heaven

God’s kingdom is coming.

What will it look like, how will it be?

Will it be paradise?

The Garden of Eden?  The new Jerusalem?

“See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more;

mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3b-4)

That sounds alright doesn’t it?

How can we be better stewards during our time here on earth?

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Original artwork by Emily Tarrant

Give us this day our daily bread

Do you find it easy or hard to ask God for the things you need?   What about the things you want?

Do you think it’s okay to pray for material things?   Does this kind of prayer “work”?

How about praying for health?  Happiness?

And if you don’t get what you are asking God for, how does that make you feel?

In Matthew, chapter 4 whilst Jesus is being tempted, he reminds us,

“It is written,

‘One does not live by bread alone,

but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

God knows that we do need food, clean water, somewhere to live … we all need these things.

Some have all they need whilst others are lacking.   How can we share God’s gifts to us?

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Original artwork by Rosemary Cook            Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us

“Trespassers will be prosecuted”  When I was little, I remember seeing signs like that in the countryside and strong fences to keep people out.  It seemed odd that the Lord’s Prayer used the word “trespass”.

Other translations of the Bible use words like,

“Forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

or,  “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those    who sin against us.”

Trespasses, debts, sins … or perhaps there is there another word which speaks to you?

Sorry …

Do you find it easy to forgive?

Do you carry the burden of unforgiving with you?

Jesus, bearer of our sins, have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world.

Can you believe that you are forgiven?                                                           

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Original artwork by Lesley Crawley

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil

Temptation lures us away.  Sometimes it can seem harmless and fun, do you remember the advertising campaign for cream cakes, “Naughty, but nice”?

Or perhaps you have some sympathy for Oscar Wilde’s,

“I can resist everything but temptation.”

Temptation, it can sound like fun and sometimes it is, but by its nature it hides things which are bad for us, which can sometimes be dark and sinister.

Temptation, addiction … desperation to have just that one more thing.  These things keep us from being the unique person God has created us to be.

Lord Jesus, reach out your hand to me right now and lead me from all evil

Yea though I walk

through the valley of the shadow of death,  I will feel no evil

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Original artwork by Alison Ridgeon

For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen.

“For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.”  (2 Corinthians 4:6-7)

Does God’s glory shine in your heart?

Can others see it within you?

Can you see God’s loving kingdom shining within others?

When we pray “For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen” we acknowledge the glorious power of our creator God who welcomes every single one of us as a unique individual within His kingdom.

How amazing!

And we are bold enough to call God, “Our Father …”

 

 

If you would like to talk with someone, please contact:  Revd. Alan Crawley or Revd. Lesley Crawley on 01252 820537, reverend.alan@gmail.com revdlesley@gmail.com

Marking 150 years of Reader Ministry

 

Lesley Shatwell, our LLM in training helped St John’s and St Mark’s mark the 150th anniversary of the restoration of Reader ministry in the Church of England by preaching this sermon (well sort-of, she got heckled at St Mark’s so didn’t get through it all… ).

“For Reader, one should be appointed after he has been carefully proved; no babbler, nor drunkard, nor jester; of good morals, submissive, of benevolent intentions, first in the assembly at the meetings on the Lord’s Day, of a plain utterance, and capable of clearly expounding, mindful that he assumes the position of an Evangelist; for whoever fills the ear of the ignorant will be accounted as having his name written with God.”  This comes from “The Apostolic Church Order” which was published before 200 AD.  Mind you, by AD 500, the position of “Reader” had fallen into decline.  It wasn’t until 1561 that the office was revived, but then there were very clear rules:  a Reader was to ‘move men to quiet and concord, and not give them cause for offence’.  They weren’t allowed to do the important things like administering the sacraments, but they were allowed to bury the dead.  Oh and it goes without saying they could not be women.  It seems as though they were a cheap form of priest.

However, 150 years ago on Ascension Day 1866, the office of Reader was revived for a second time.  It happened during a time of huge expansion of the church, particularly within cities of the industrial north and there simply weren’t enough vicars to cope.  Readers took on the role of teacher in Sunday Schools, leading worship in mission halls and teaching Bible classes.  Being lay ministers, they were seen as bridging the gap between the ordained clergy and parishioners.  One clergyman even describing them as ‘the better educated from among the uneducated’ – what a disparaging view of his parishioners that man must have had!

The First World War turned many people’s lives upside down and inside out.  Readers were encouraged to preach during the evening service.  After the war, the element of preaching was retained.  In the 1920s, the first national organisation specifically for Readers was created.  Readers were given better training and standards were raised.

However, it wasn’t until 1969 when women were first licensed – just think what the world had been missing in all those years!  And today, according to the Church of England website, there are more than 10,000 active Readers in the Church of England.

In 2009, the name Licensed Lay Minister (LLM) was coined to replace the term “Reader”.  It was thought to reflect more clearly exactly what we do, but I am not sure it does.  Yes, we do more than read – although through my course I have wondered about that as I wade through the mountain of set books!  We are ministers of the church, but we are laity.  We get into all kinds of places, most are licensed to a parish but some are chaplains in prisons, hospitals, hospices or schools and a few are in charge of parishes.  We have been described as ‘theological resource people working within a pastoral context’.  But what does that really mean?  And more particularly, what does it mean to me and our parish?  On 25 June, provided I pass my remaining assignments, Bishop Andrew will license me to this parish – yes you are stuck with me, I’m not being moved on to another parish.  I will have completed three years of training in topics as diverse as Christian Ethics, how to prepare and give a sermon, Bible Studies – hermeneutics (Old and New Testaments – and a bit of the Apocrypha!), Church History, Mission and Evangelism (didn’t enjoy that one much), Doctrine – that was probably my favourite – oh and Spirituality and Pastoral Theology.  And in my spare time, I’ve been attending church!

So I am coming to the end of this part of my studies (I have another four years within the system still – oh the Church of England doesn’t let anyone loose that quickly, there’s no knowing what I might do to you!).  Alan and I have been discussing my future role within the parish, particularly because I won’t be the only newcomer in July:  Hannah will be joining us as curate (hooray!).  As a lay minister, I have a certain degree of flexibility about my ministry, so I am still on a voyage of discovery.  As you look around you will see an art installation here (come back this afternoon – between 2 and 4 and there will be tea, scones and music too).  I am interested in creative worship and different ways of exploring God – prayer stations, labyrinth, music, art, storytelling, play … wow – now I’m getting carried away!

God calls every one of us.  And God gives us gifts to serve Him and to share with others.  We are happiest and at our most alive when we walk within our God-given-gifts.  God has called me to become a Licensed Lay Minister here and I am so excited to discover where He leads me in my ministry.

Listen, is God calling you?