Two versions of the Lord’s Prayer are recorded in the Gospels. Jesus taught his listeners a longer form as part of the Sermon on the Mount, and this is recorded in Matthew’s Gospel (6:9-13), when he told them to “Pray then in this way...” The version in Luke’s Gospel (11:1-4) is a shorter form, and is a response by Jesus to a request: “… one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples’”. Some scholars suggest that both these versions are authentic, with Jesus teaching the Matthean version early in his ministry in Galilee, and the Lucan version some time later.
Each individual part of a prayer is known as a “petition”. Matthew’s version contains seven of these, while there are five in Luke’s Gospel. In Matthew, the first three address God, while the remaining four are related to human needs and concerns. It is only Matthew that includes the lines “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”, and “rescue us from the evil one” (or “Deliver us from evil”). The fact that the Lord’s Prayer does not feature in Mark’s Gospel suggests that its origins lie in “Q” – the hypothetical document which is believed to be the source of material that is found in Matthew and Luke but not Mark.
However it came to be part of our liturgy today, we can be thankful that we have a teaching
about prayer from Jesus himself. The beauty of the Lord’s Prayer is that it is both simple and
sophisticated, humble and assured, and, above all, universal. It enables all Christians of all ages,
creeds and colours to pray with confidence. As the Archbishops of York and Canterbury put it in a joint statement:
“At the heart of our prayers will be words that Jesus himself taught us. It is simple enough to be memorised by small children and yet profound enough to sustain a whole lifetime of prayer.”
God, through Jeremiah, promises the exiled people a straight path home. No tripping up. Water brooks to drink from along the way. Why? Because they have been ransomed. God has bought them back. Their Lord has redeemed them.
It is not easy being God’s people and in some ways the story the Old Testament tells is a tragic one. Although it begins with rescue from slavery and a journey to freedom, it is a story of failure and misunderstanding on the part of the people, and of God’s sorrow and anger.
That is our story too. Christianity’s story begins with salvation from slavery, yet God’s people since the coming of Christ have shown just as much failure and misunderstanding. And we sense God’s sorrow and anger with us, as a people and as individuals. And yet there is the promise, the promise made real by Christmas, and appropriately remembered and celebrated at the beginning of another year. As God’s ancient people discovered, there is always redemption. God’s gift of salvation through Jesus may be undeserved, but it is certain. God does not give up on us. There are water brooks for our thirst and straight paths home to God.
Christ is coming, but first someone is sent to prepare his way. Perhaps someone will act as John the Baptist for us. How often do we find a conversation with a friend or a chance encounter with a stranger prepares us for a revelation from God? When we least expect it, God has plans to speak to us, to renew our hope, to bring comfort or to illuminate our path. But knowing we may not be paying attentionor maybe not ready to hear, God gently nudges us and gets our attention so we are ready. John the Baptist understood his role and his mission. Those whom God sends to prepare us may never know.
And if others prepare us for God's word, so we may also prepare others unknowingly. Always alert, we should be sensitive to God's inspiration to speak and act, because we do not know the effect it may be having on others. Or perhaps we are called to stand up for what is right, giving God's message where we recognise an injustice or wrong. We nay hear the voice that says "Cry out!" Do we have the courage to ask "what shall I cry?" Do we have the courage to say the words that we believe God wants us to?
Our world awaits the Christ child at Christmas, but amid the joy there is much to change.
Bishop Michael Ipgrave & Sue with members of the congregation of St Chad Hopwas.
Bishop Michael is walking to each of the churches in the Diocese of Lichfield, dedicated to St Chad. Saturday 8th August 2020 he and Sue walked from Burton along the canal to Hopwas (16mile) He will visit all 27 churches before the end of the month.
A positive word of encouragement can help change someone's entire life!
So, so true. We all fill our lives with clutter.
Now, what is today? Father’s Day! I hope we all made a big fuss of Dad; breakfast in bed, nice card, possibly a present. You know Dad does not need all this fuss, he just loves us for just being us – but isn’t it nice to make a fuss? People say Father’s Day is just another Americanism, and yes, it is a fairly new celebration - official figures put it at 1972 - but there are records of unofficial Father’s Day going back to 1910. So Dad needn’t think he’s not as important because celebrations of Mothering Sunday, which go back several hundred years, had much to do with families getting together in the Mother Church, so Dad was included then.
Now, you all know how to talk to your Dads; ask his advice, weedle things out of him, but you can talk to our Father in Heaven in exactly the same way. We all know how much God loves us, because he sent his Son to die for us. But lots of people find it hard to pray, some think we should spend hours on our knees, not ask for things for ourselves; that prayers should be like the intercessions in Church – well I don’t think so. There is really only one prayer we need to pray and that is the one Christ taught us – ‘The Lord’s Prayer’.
I’m not trying to catch anyone out, but how many of you know the Lord’s Prayer – when we older people were young, which we were once, we had assemblies in school every week and the Lord’s Prayer was always said. Lots of us went to church primary schools and went into the church once a week for assembly. We just learnt it off by heart. But let us look at it a little closer.
As I said in the beginning, in this prayer we are praying for the world, for peace, for the people, for deliverance. When you have said the Lord’s Prayer you have said everything, so there is nothing wrong in now asking the Father for something for yourself. I don’t spend hours in prayer and I am terrible for arrow throwing, quite often asking for something for myself, friends or family, or just saying ‘thank you’ for something in a special moment. I hate the dentists, can’t stand anything in my mouth, so all of the time I am in there, I am saying “God, just be with me, don’t let me be stupid and show myself up; let it be over quick” - that is praying. But, I know God doesn’t mind that, he is just like our own dad, we hold their hands for security and protection, we ask for things, we love and respect them. That is all they want and that is what God wants too.
The Sea of Galilee, was like a huge lake with small fishing towns all around it and Jesus did a lot of his preaching around this area; this is also where his disciples had fished. It was surrounded by high hills and this is what caused the wind to blow very strong around it.
Jesus had been preaching all one day and when evening approached I should imagine he was exhausted. So, he said to his disciples “let us go over the other side”. He was probably wanting to get away from the crowds for a little while. Well, that night when they set off for the other shore, Jesus just curled up where he was in the boat and immediately fell asleep. Now remember, the disciples knew this lake; they fished it and they understood that it could get rough. But that night, it must have been a really terrific squall that got up and it was so bad that it terrified the disciples.
Can you imagine how they felt; there was Jesus, sound asleep and they thought they were going to drown. Didn’t he care about them? Then, when they awoke him, he just calmed the waters of the lake , stopped the wind and told them off for not trusting him. Where was their faith? All they could think of was, ‘crikey, who is this man who can tell the wind and the sea to be still and they do?’ I can just imagine how they felt; they thought they knew him, but never thought he could do that. But all Jesus was saying was – ‘why didn’t you trust me, why were you scared? I am here with you’.
This story is saying to us; here is this amazing man, the Son of God, who can do anything, even tame the wind and the sea and yet all he wants from us is for us to know that he is here to look after us and wants us to give him our trust and love – he will never let us down.
Just as God is the Father of Jesus, he is also our Heavenly Father. Jesus tells us to call God, ‘Abba, Father’, just as he did. Surely this then means we are adopted into God’s family; we are all brothers and sisters with Jesus and each other in the eyes of God.
And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’
Where did that thought come from?! We’ve all had the experience of thinking something strange and wondering where the idea came from. If it’s a good thought, we might say “I would never have thought something like that! It must be God.” If it’s a bad thought, we may feel that it reflects badly on us – or that it must have been the devil that put it there.
Our inner voices are a vital part of our conscious experience. They are also the fabric of our prayers. If we are wise, we learn to discern which ones are to be listened to. Jesus was obedient to the Spirit, who led him into the wilderness, but then he heard the voice of the tempter. This voice questioned what the voice from heaven had said at his baptism. Indirectly, it helped him because, in his dialogue with this voice, he clarified what his vocation as Son of God was to be. It would not be about self-serving miracles, about human glory, or avoidance of suffering. It would be a life of service and self-giving.
We know now that many people hear voices (out loud) who are not mentally ill. It is not the hearing of voices that we need to be afraid of. We all hear voices. We need courage to listen, and wisdom to discern what they mean.
Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’
What is the passion in your life? Do you spend a lot of time wishing you could do something else, particularly at this moment of global crisis?
Martha welcomes Jesus, and she serves Jesus in practical ways. She wants to do the right things. How can this be wrong? Somehow, amidst the mental activity and busy routine, she risks losing the one thing that is needful. She is understandably cross with her sister. Perhaps she is jealous? Does she really want to be at Jesus’s feet too – or is the activity a way of avoiding that?
Our passions to do what is right are vital to society and human wellbeing, and we cannot do without them, but they easily become an end in themselves. They lead us away from other priorities. They master us and consume us. Mental and spiritual wellbeing require that we keep them in context.
The Story of the Man and the Song
After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the Lord. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord, and wept bitterly. She made this vow: ‘O Lord of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a Nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head.’
As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, ‘How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine.’ But Hannah answered, ‘No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.’ Then Eli answered, ‘Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.’
1 Samuel 1:9-17
Have you ever found yourself not knowing what to say when someone cheerily said “How are you?” Perhaps you felt awful, but didn’t like to say so? A friend of mine had this experience once when leaving church. She decided to be honest, and said that she felt terrible. The unheeding reply was “Oh – that’s good!”
There are unwritten expectations about how people should behave, just as there were when Hannah prayed in the Jerusalem temple. Mental ill health makes it difficult or impossible to fulfil them, and our unwillingness to be honest about such things contributes to the stigma. By conferring stigma on those who suffer from mental ill health, or even on those who simply give honest emotional replies to everyday questions, church and society make things worse.
Unlike God, human beings cannot see what is in someone's heart – unless they share them. However, if we ask, we need to be ready for honest answers, and honest answers make vulnerable people more vulnerable. If we join in with God, in searching out one another’s vulnerabilities, we need to get more like him in loving and accepting what we find.
Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until day-break.
It has been said that if you cannot stand your own company when alone, you should not impose it on other people! Perhaps this is unfair? Some of us (especially the extroverts) only really get to know ourselves in company with others. However, isolation does have a way of confronting us with some of the things that we try to avoid. We say that our “demons” haunt us in a sleepless night, but sometimes it is God who haunts us in our solitude.
Jacob, fleeing from one set of problems, in the family of his in-laws, is returning to another set of problems back in his own family in Canaan. He is not really alone, he has a large family of his own, with many maids and servants. Despite this, as home gets closer so does the reality of the family conflict that he has avoided for so long, and so does the weight of the burden that he alone carries. In the solitude of a sleepless night he finds himself wrestling with a man who will not disclose his name. Given his fears, we might conclude this man represented Jacob’s demons, but Jacob comes to a very different conclusion. “I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved” (verse 30). Judging by Jacob’s experience, seeing God may sometimes be a real struggle, but it is nonetheless a blessing. In the light of the following day, Jacob is reconciled with his brother.
We may not want solitude, but sometimes life forces it upon us. It is easy to focus on the loss of companionship and loss of opportunities that isolation brings. Sometimes, however, what we really fear are the reminders of the things that companionship and activity usually help us to avoid. Scary though these things may be, God may well be in our midst, waiting to bless us.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart, and bring me out of my distress. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.
Loneliness is an experience that we can all relate to, but almost 1 in 5 people in the UK often or always feel lonely. The figures are higher for the elderly and for young people. If you are lonely, it would seem, you are not alone but that is unlikely to provide much comfort. We are social creatures. We need to feel connected to others.
It is possible to feel lonely in a crowd, or in a marriage. It is equally possible to be alone and not to feel lonely. Feeling lonely and being alone are different things. Loneliness is more about the company that we would like to have and do not have, the discrepancy between the way things are and the way we would like them to be.
Enduring loneliness can be both a cause and a consequence of mental ill health. The Psalmist is lonely and afflicted, distressed, and troubled. In Psalm 25, loneliness is associated with troubles of the heart or, as we might say, depression and anxiety. Pain and trauma can create, and perpetuate, our feelings of loneliness. We can feel abandoned even when others are trying to show that they care. We may feel that others do not understand what we are going through.
The Psalmist turns to God for help, and asks that God will turn to him. Prayer is not a magic solution for loneliness. Nonetheless, like the Psalmist, we can be honest before God; there is no need to pretend. We turn to God for God’s sake, not simply to ask him to fix things. God is always there, even if it does feel as though he has turned away. When feeling lonely, turning to God, and asking God to turn to you, is not a bad place to start.
So there you are, having a quiet cuppa and a chat with a friend when suddenly.....
As parents, there are so many things we teach our children. There are the ‘magic’ words of please and thank you to learn, the right way to hold a pencil, how to tie up shoelaces, and how to cross the road safely, to name just a few. And the learning process isn’t confined to the early years. As children get older, we do our best to help them learn about relationships, internet safety, and money management.
Our children are watching and finding things out from us all the time. And that includes what they learn from us about faith. But it’s possible to give this little, if any, thought. We devote ourselves to nurturing their physical, intellectual and emotional growth, but how much time do we give to sharing our faith with our children?
At the heart of the Church is a ticking time-bomb. It is estimated that only 50% of children with Christian parents grow up to have a personal faith of their own as adults. In contrast, those who do not practice the Christian faith are virtually 100% successful in passing on their lack of belief to their children. The need to address this situation is urgent. If nothing is done, the Church faces a crisis within a generation. Rob Parsons O.B.E Founder and Chairman, Care for the family
Sharing faith with the next generation is an important theme throughout the Bible. Parents are repeatedly exhorted to teach their children about God, so that the next generation have the opportunity to experience God’s love, goodness and forgiveness for themselves.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:5–7)
At its heart, the gospel is an invitation to enter into relationship with God. Parents can model what that looks like every day, in a way that is very hard to achieve at church, in Sunday school or similar settings. After all, what we’re trying to convey is that the Christian faith is not just about attending church on a Sunday morning! Parents can show their children what it means to turn to God in difficult times, to forgive and love each other, to receive God’s grace when mistakes are made, and to thank him for the good times too. Our children’s work at church is important, but the greatest impact is when children see faith lived out every day in both the tough times and the good times.
When we eventually return to something resembling normality, we need to consider what we can and are doing to nurture a Christian faith in the next generation. We all need to take a part in this; parents and grand-parents, teachers, clergy and lay workers. How can we introduce Jesus to the young ones? We need to share our faith with them. They ARE the future.
Check out this great video
So. Today is St George’s Day. Let’s celebrate our patron saint. Today is the anniversary of his death and the day was once a national holiday and celebrated as much as Christmas Day! Can you get more English with a name than George? A well used royal name, after all. Well, actually George wasn’t English and there’s no clear evidence that he ever set foot on English soil. He was born sometime around AD 280 in Turkey and became a Roman soldier and later progressed to the role of a personal guard for the Emperor Diocletian. Not the nicest of chaps we would like to meet, Diocletian was one of the leaders of the persecution of Christians, destroying churches, burning scriptures and hounding followers. But his personal guard, St George, protested against the persecution and remained dedicated to his Christian faith. He a was imprisoned and tortured for his troubles. He was later beheaded in Palestine on April 23, AD 303.
His head was taken to, and stored, in the church dedicated to him in Rome, and the rest of his body was buried in Lod, Israel.
So, what’s all this got to do with dragons? Well nothing really. It’s a great myth that grew up about him. Something like this. According to legend, the only well in Silene was guarded by a dragon and each day, residents had to make human sacrifices in order to access the water.
A princess was the next person to be sacrificed and on the day she was due to be killed, St George bravely fought the dragon to save her.
After St George successfully killed the dragon, the people of Silene were finally granted free access to the well, and in gratitude, they turned to Christianity.
So, there you have it in a potted history. St George - martyr and dragon-slayer.
Hang on, though. You haven’t told me why he is patron saint of england if he wasn’t English and didn’t come here. Ah! Sorry. Well, we have King Edward III to thank for that. He created the order of the garter in 1348 and named it after George. He obviously thought he was a jolly fine chap. Shakespeare finally immortalised him in English history ,concluding the Henry V, Act III, speech with ‘Cry God for Harry, England and St George'. Enjoy our patron day!