Praying for Manchester: Thy Kingdom Come

This last week we celebrated the feast of the Ascension, a celebration of Christ’s rule and reign. Jesus is taken into heaven, something the Gospel writers struggle to explain in physical terms. And yet the spiritual implications are clear. That Christ, in full divinity and full humanity is seated now far above all rule and authority and power and dominion. A ruler that rules over people justly, like the sun rising on a cloudless morning, gleaming from the rain on the grassy land.

It is a rule that brings earth to heaven, Jesus knowing fully temptation, trials, suffering and death. It is a rule that brings heaven to earth, as the Holy Spirit is poured out upon God’s people - the church - which is Christ’s body on earth. It is a rule that we as Christians experience in our own walk with God and our relationship with others.

And yet this last week we have also seen horrific events in Manchester that are far from Christ's rule and reign. It is clear that Christ’s victory on the cross did not fix everything, right here and right now. We live in a space between the expression of the fullness of God’s love and the experience of the fullness of God’s love. We have the seal of the promise of a better world, and yet we are yet to take possession of that world.

And so we pray, as Christians have always prayed: Thy Kingdom Come, thy will be done, in Earth as it is in Heaven. And in particular we pray this prayer in this week between Ascension and Pentecost with Christians across denominations and communions as part of the Archbishop’s Thy Kingdom Come initiative.

It is a challenging prayer at the best of times, even more so when we are surrounded by fear and terror, loss and grief. When God’s Kingdom seems so distant - now is the time to respond with prayer.

It is a challenging prayer because it is not just a prayer for society and the world but a prayer for each of us. In the midst of the pain of the last week we hear stories of bravery and charity that are clear signs of God’s Kingdom Come.

As people of faith we are faced with the challenge as to how we will respond and demonstrate God’s kingdom and rule as one of love, reconciliation and justice in opposition to acts of violence and hate in the name of religion.

ISIS speaks of the United Kingdom as a Christian country. But although we carry that history as a nation, most people in our society do not have the hope and assurance that we have in Christ:
That Christ is seated in rule and authority.
That Christ will come again.
That there will be a new heaven and earth without pain and suffering. That God has an immeasurable greatness of his power for his people to live lives that are different and transform the world.

That is the mission of the church - to demonstrate that transformation in practical ways and to draw others in God’s family of love. It is what All Saints already does as a church in many ways, serving the community.

It is what we shall be focusing on during our Mission week in July, when Bishop Michael and diverse team of people with be visiting us to strengthen and encourage us in that work. You can support it in many different ways, financially or practically - please do talk to a member of the ministry team if you would like to know more.

This is how we respond to fear and terror, with love and hospitality. Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done, On Earth as it is in Heaven, Amen.

























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