TALKING THE TALK AND WALKING THE WALK
THY KINGDOM COME
THY WILL BE DONE
As other Christians may well be aware, the period from the Ascension to Pentecost (lasting 11 days) has become a period where Christians throughout the UK and across the world, pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Originally, this movement started as an initiative in 2016 from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Church of England but it has since grown internationally and ecumenically.
The intention throughout these 11 days is that those who take part will deepen their relationship with Christ, pray for God's spirit to work in their lives and those of others, and to accept that every aspect of their lives is the stuff of prayer. The revelation came when during the first two weeks of the sabbatical I was forced to take on what I had been putting off for years: recarpetting the manse. Whilst I was deeply thankful to the Property Team in our Circuit for arranging this, the process of change filled me with dread. A new carpet in one room meant that its contents needed to be housed elsewhere. This meant therefore tidying up, throwing out, making space, and eventually clearing out a garage which had become a dumping ground for everything that 'might come in useful one day'.
Sometimes, the most simple actions have profound effects. Over the next two weeks I prepared for the two days that the carpet fitters needed. During that time I reflected that whilst it is one thing to say yes to a gift, it is another, completely different thing to accommodate it - even if we know the end result will benefit us. As for me, when I announced to the world via Facebook that this great move was happening, one of my friends who runs a cleaning business in Lincolnshire replied, 'Langley and Spring Cleaning were not designed to appear in the same sentence.' He was right. I tend to go with Einstein's famous statement 'Empty desk, empty mind.'
Curiously, as I set about this task on my own (what use is a sabbatical to the rest of the family if the minister cannot be left to manage this independently), I began to reflect on how whilst God offers us good things, more often than not we must play our part in seeing them come to fruition. And thus whilst we pray 'Thy Kingdom Come' as part of the Lord's Prayer, we must not neglect the next line, 'Thy Will be Done'. Our prayers for the Kingdom should flow naturally into an openness and a willingness to journey and embrace the discomfort of change, until things become more settled. As I write, I reflect on some of our own experiences within the Peterborough Circuit of Churches where whilst there has been gain, it has not been without its pain. And as I hear echoes of what is happening in Cumbria, where churches sense the call to work together, I discern a humble honesty that whilst some things may be a challenge, they are worthwhile. And put simply, God has more to offer us than our current experience of church, but we need to embrace change positively. Thus, whilst I am enthused about 'Thy Kingdom Come', I am also more interested at how serious we are about embracing the spiritual, emotional, physical, and financial costs of seeing this through. Wherever the Lord is leading our Church across the country, we can be certain that whilst there will be times of joy, and resurrection life, we need to guard against choosing resuscitation over resurrection. Recusitation has its place of course, but only if it brings us back to full-health. Resurrection is something different.