The kingdom, the power and the glory are yours…

This week, Jeanette and Martyn set up the Prayer Space, based on the theme of God’s Kingdom.

In our Prayer Service on Tuesday morning, Martyn talked about the mustard seed, which in the well-known parable, grows into a huge tree, becoming a home for all the birds and wildlife for miles around.  In reality, Martyn explains, the mustard plant is more like a shrub than a tree and is highly invasive, emitting chemicals to eradicate all the indigenous plants in the local habitat.  We are called to be a bit like that mustard plant, spreading the message of the Kingdom, emitting chemicals as an antidote to some of the more negative influences that have grown up in our habitats…!

More appealingly, perhaps, Jeanette talked us through the action of yeast, and how that can be an allegory for the Kingdom of Heaven: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.” (Matthew 13: 33)  Jeanette took us through the various stages of bread making:

  • the unpromising-looking little flecks of yeast, which is actually a living organism;
  • adding water (c.f. the “living water” Jesus speaks of);
  • as well as putting in flour, you add salt (c.f. our calling to be “salt” and “light” in the world);
  • as far a light is concerned, her bread had sat outside in the God-given sunshine, which provided the heat to make the dough rise;
  • then the dough had to be “knocked back” or “proven” to half its size before being put int a loaf tin (c.f. how we are tested or “proven” by God)
  • Finally, having been left to rise again somewhere warm, the bread is baked.
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Jeanette’s instructions on bread-making

We then turned our focus towards the prayer stations Jeanette and Martyn had prepared:

1. God’s Kingdom now…. as shown by how I live my life

God’s Kingdom is established whenever people submit to his reign as King and carry out His will in their lives.

Paul in his letter to the Galatian church encourages them to live their lives demonstrating the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5: 22–23)

If you would like to experience more of one of the fruits of the Spirit in your life, take the card that talks of that fruit, consider the question and then pray for Holy Spirit to work in your life.

Then take one of the fruit beads as a reminder to pray for this.

“Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” (Galatians 5: 25)

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Love  This word for love doesn’t refer to warm feelings but to a deliberate attitude of good will and devotion to others. Love gives freely without looking at whether the other person deserves it, and it gives without expecting anything back.

Question: Am I motivated to do for others as Christ has done for me, or am I giving to receive something in return? 

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Joy  Joy isn’t like happiness which is based upon happenings or whether things are going well or not. No, joy remains even amidst the suffering. Joy is not happiness. Joy is an emotion that’s acquired by the anticipation, acquisition or even the expectation of something great or wonderful.

Question: Am I experiencing a joy of life on a regular basis, or is my happiness dependent on things going smoothly in my day?

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Peace  It’s not the absence of turmoil, but the presence of tranquility even while in a place of chaos. It is a sense of wholeness and completeness that is content knowing that God controls the events of the day.

Question: Do I find myself frazzled by the crashing waves of turmoil in my life, or am I experiencing “the peace that passes all comprehension” (Philippians 4:6-7)?

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Patience Other words that describe this fruit are lenience, long-suffering, forbearance, perseverance, and steadfastness.

Question Do I react badly when things go wrong or people irritate me, or am I able to keep a godly perspective in the face of life’s irritations and if things are not going my way?

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Kindness  When kindness is at work in a person’s life, he or she looks for ways to adapt to meet the needs of others. It is moral goodness that overflows. It’s also the absence of malice. 

Question: Is it my goal to serve others with kindness, or am I too focused on my own needs, desires, or problems to let the goodness of God overflow to others?

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Goodness  The deliberate choice of doing right rather than wrong. The firm and persistent resistance of all moral evil and the choosing and following of all moral good.

Question: Does my life reflect these standards?

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Faithfulness Faithfulness is the concept of remaining consistently loyal to someone or something, regardless of extenuating circumstances.

Question:  Is my life characterised by faith in Christ and faithfulness to those around me?

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Gentleness  Gentleness, also translated as meekness, is not weakness. Gentleness is not without power, it just chooses to defer to others. It forgives others, corrects with kindness, demonstrates humility and lives in tranquility.

Question: Do I come across to others as brash and headstrong, or am I allowing the grace of God to flow through me to others?

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Self-control Our natural desires are sometimes at odds with God’s Spirit and want to be in charge. Self-control is literally releasing our grip and choosing instead to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. It is power focused in the right way.

Question: Are my natural desires controlling my life, or am I allowing the Spirit to direct me to the things that please God and serve others?

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2. God’s Kingdom now… in the Borough of Guildford

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3. God’s Kingdom now … in the United Kingdom

We prayed for Manchester, and for all the individuals and families caught up in that dreadful atrocity.

Then we prayed for the forthcoming General Election:

On 6th May the Archbishops wrote to the parishes of the Church of England and in a long letter concerning the General Election on 8th said, among other things:

“This election is being contested against the background of deep and profound questions of identity. Opportunities to renew and re-imagine our shared values as a country and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland only come around every few generations. We are in such a time.

“Our Christian heritage, our current choices and our obligations to future generations and to God’s world will all play a shaping role. If our shared British values are to carry the weight of where we now stand and the challenges ahead of us, they must have at their core, cohesion, courage and stability.

“Cohesion is what holds us together. The United Kingdom, when at its best, has been represented by a sense not only of living for ourselves, but by a deeper concern for the weak, poor and marginalised, and for the common good. At home that includes education for all, the need for urgent and serious solutions to our housing challenges, the importance of creating communities as well as buildings, and a confident and flourishing health service that gives support to all – especially the vulnerable – not least at the beginning and end of life. Abroad it is seen in many ways, including 0.7% aid commitment, properly applied in imaginative ways, standing up for those suffering persecution on grounds of faith, and our current leading on campaigns against slavery, trafficking and sexual violence in conflict.”

Read the letter to consider what else they said about the need for courage and stability in our society made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Take one of the subject cards and pray for a just and appropriate outcome to the election, leading to a fair society for all:

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Education; a radical approach to education so that the historic failures of technical training and over-emphasis on purely academic subjects are addressed and rebalanced

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The need for urgent and serious solutions to our housing challenges

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The importance of creating communities as well as buildings

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A confident and flourishing health service that gives support to all – especially the vulnerable – not least at the beginning and end of life.

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0.7% aid commitment, properly applied in imaginative ways, standing up for those suffering persecution on grounds of faith, and our current leading on campaigns against slavery, trafficking and sexual violence in conflict

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A fair and just society for all

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A just economy and just finance

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A re-evaluation of the importance of religious belief in society

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Stable communities that are skilled in reconciliation, resilient in setbacks, diligent in sustainability, particularly with regard to the environment

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Stability in marriage, the family and the household as foundational communities

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An outward looking and generous country

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4. God’s Kingdom now … in the world

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A reminder of the Coronation Oath – and how rulers should submit to the power of God…

Our morning of prayer finished with a sublime piece of music by John Rutter.

Thank you to Jeanette and Martyn for producing a very thought-provoking and helpful prayer service and prayer space this week.

Cally

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