You may have heard of Antony Gormley’s One & Other project- the fourth plinth on Trafalgar Square occupied by anybody who entered the draw. The idea is that any man or women can bid to spend an hour on the plinth to do whatever they like. The whole things is broadcast live on the Internet and Sky Arts. In the early hours of Sunday morning this week (2am to be precise) my friend Alison Wooding occupied the plinth with an hour of virtually silent prayer. It was an amazing experience. She started off being heckled by bystanders who wanted her to do something and entertain them, and yet after about 25 minutes or so the peaceful presence of God was felt across Trafalgar Square as people stopped, stared and reflected on what it means to be quiet in the presence of God and for the sake of others. Silent prayer caused silence to descend on one of the busiest parts of London amongst clubbers and night owls. As the whole things has been filmed, why not set aside one hour to re-live Alison’s experience and offer up those in your community for prayer for one hour today. Be a fourth plinther for prayer right here, right now wherever you are- you don’t need a pedestal for prayer!
See the vigil @ http://www.oneandother.co.uk/participants/alison_w_1 Alison follows the shouting John Craddock who was supporting MS.
Today I joined a very small number of people for morning prayer as part of a couple of days I am spending at a lovely retreat/conference centre in the heart of Limehouse in London. I was struck by the words from Common Worship’s Morning Prayer on Thursday and wanted to share something of them with you:
The night has passed, and the day lies open before us; let us pray with one heart and mind. As we rejoice in the gift of this new day, so may the light of your presence, O God, set our hearts on fire with love for you; now and forever. Amen. I have given you as a light to the nations, and I have called you in righteousness. Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.
Let’s take some time this day to consider how we may be called by God; know that we belong to him and that through his grace, mercy and inspiration have the ability to touch the lives of others and reflect something of the presence and light of God. May you be uplifted, inspired and expectant this day.
Thanks to Nick Fawcett for this prayer which sums up something of how I am feeling this week:
“Gracious God, when life is testing and your purpose is hard to fathom, help me to remember that you are able to see me through. When I feel overwhelmed by the challenge before me, yet so nowhere and no one to turn to, remind me to reach out to you, knowing that whenever I need you, you will be there. Teach me that with you, no situation is beyond hope, and that no darkness can ever fully extinguish the light, and in that confidence may I walk each day in faith, to the glory of your name. Amen.”
What makes a difficult personality- is it someone who tends to see the problems and things that need still to be done rather than to praise the achievements and successes of what has been delivered? I am thought to be blunt, direct, lacking in thought, insensitive and confrontational- and these are just the views of my family! Yet others tell me I am thoughtful, sensitive, patient, tolerant and a good listener. I sometimes struggle to understand which version of me people are getting and how much I am letting God down in how I conduct myself. I always feel that I act consistently and that I am “a what you see is what you get” personality. Is it just possible that those who are closest to me are likely to get the harshest treatment because I love them the most? Jeff Lucas has in the past made fun of Christians who use the phrase “speaking the truth in love”, as a thinly veiled excuse for giving someone a verbal kicking. Throughout my life I have always got into difficulties when speaking up or taking a stand, so should I stop? Thanks once more to Nick Fawcett’s Daily Prayer who reveals a truth through prayer that is tailor made for me:
“Help me to know when it is not only right but necessary to speak, and when such moments come, give me wisdom, sensitivity and courage, so that i will know the words to say and be enabled to say them. Give me that rare ability to speak the truth in love..Loving God, help me to speak your challenging, reforming and renewing word of truth, for your name’s sake. Amen.”
So, it’s not so much what I say as when and how I say it and the motivation of my heart in raising it. Let me be a builder up more than a knocker down!
During weeks like this faithfulness and stamina are hard to come by.It’s been a tough week for me. I am juggling a couple of projects, with key members of the team away or posts vacant. There has been a great deal to do in a fast-shrinking time-frame and sometime it feels just as the top of the hill is being reached ,the clouds come down and time is spent just finding out exactly where I am as visibility becomes challenging and the hope of making the summit in good time slips away. Thank God for friends, family and hard-working colleagues at times like these. Once again I take encouragement from Nick Fawcett’s Daily Prayer as he writes:
“Lord God, you know that life isn’t always easy. There are times when I feel exhausted, overwhelmed and defeated.Remind me then of those who have gone before, keeping the faith, and running the race with perseverance. Remind me of Jesus, his willingness to endure the cross for my sake. Remind me of my responsibility to those who will come after me…Lord Jesus Christ, inspire me through your love and the great company of those who have gone before me, to persevere and run the race, to the glory of your name. Amen.”
Earlier today I blogged about a prayer for Father’s Day. Within my own family my prayers go out to my nephew Matthew and his half-brothers and sister. Today they will spend their first Father’s day without their dad. Almost a year on from Michael’s death the sense of hurt, pain and loss is still very tangible within the family and on this day in particular his children will feel very low. Please pray for them as their is much healing and reconciliation needed as people get angry with each other and God about this situation. In additional please pray for children everywhere who are missing their fathers who are departed, missing or estranged.
I leave you with the tributes paid by Michael’s children Matthew and Ollie at the memorial service last year.
I only ever recall meeting my father twice. The third occasion I was in his company was at his funeral.
The Church of England is making a bid to put God into Fathers’ Day with a prayer for children to include in their cards today.The Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Rev John Inge, said, “Let’s celebrate Fathers’ Day in our churches, honouring those fathers who have shown us something of God’s love, praying for fathers to be given strength in their crucial role and remembering that God, who is our Father in heaven, loves us more than we can grasp.”
Children ‘lost for words’ this Fathers’ Day are encouraged to paste or write in their cards a prayer specially written for the occasion, thanking dads for their love and support and asking God to support and guide them. “I have always believed in my head,” said Bishop John, “that God loves me unconditionally but it was only when I became a father myself that I began to understand it with my heart.”
The prayer is backed up by a new page on http://www.cofe.anglican.org with more prayer material. Churches are offered: a sample service to customise for Fathers’ Day; a podcast in which Bishop John explains how becoming a father gave him a new understanding of God’s unconditional love; and a link provides a gateway to the WhatDadsAdd website created by the Church or England and the Mothers’ Union. “I have never known a love quite like the love of being a father and I rejoice in the great gift of fatherhood,” said Bishop John Inge. “I rejoice in it because of my children, to whom I am devoted. But I also rejoice in it because it helps me to understand more profoundly how God loves me, and how nothing can separate me from that love.”
I didn’t really know my natural father but am grateful for the love of a father God. I echo this prayer this Fathers’ day and hope my children will pray it for me, and that they will have a more positive memory of me than I have of my own father. Thanks to Bishop John for reminding us of the role of fathers on this special day.
I thank God for all the love and support you offer me, and I ask for God’s blessing on you this Father’s day: may God our heavenly Father keep you in his care, support and guide you each day and help you grow in love and wisdom. through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.