Magazine Leader - May 2014

From the Vicar

I must admit that I am impressed with our (newish) Archbishop, Justin Welby. He took firm control over Lambeth Palace from the moment he arrived there and insisted on appointing all his own staff. He very publically committed himself to three priorities:

1. Priority of prayer and religious communities

2. Reconciliation

3. Evangelism and witness

It is the first of these that I want to reflect on, as we journey through Easter together. Mary recognises Jesus outside the empty tomb and, in her shriek of joy, her life is changed. She has seen the Lord and she is sent to tell the others, the first to receive the apostolic calling to go and tell. Easter changed everything and quickly Christian communities formed, usually in people’s houses, and centred on the breaking and sharing of bread together. That common response to the risen Lord was expressed through prayer and from then on what epitomises a Christian community is how we pray and worship together.

Justin Welby has insisted that his ministry as Archbishop is rooted in prayer and, in an interesting and radical step, he has invited a religious community to take up residence in Lambeth Palace so that his own ministry flows out from a community at prayer. The community in question is made up of four people from Chemin Neuf. The Chemin Neuf Community is a Roman Catholic community with an ecumenical vocation, which grew out of a prayer group in Lyon, France, in 1973. It currently has about 2000 members, based in over 30 different countries. Couples, families and celibates, men and women, share in the adventure of community life together, to follow Christ poor and humble, in order to serve the Church and the world.

For us, in our own parish, nothing will develop and grow unless it is rooted in a shared life of prayer. Following on from our ‘home and away day’ last September, I want to start developing a more obvious pattern of shared prayer together. For myself I seek to pray Morning Prayer (8.30am) and Evening Prayer (5.00pm) in church each day from Tuesday to Saturday. I would really value it if more of you could join me for that, even if on an occasional basis. We also have the aspiration to form a shared ministry team (of clergy and laity) and the key element in this will be to ask how (at the very least once a week) we can meet and share together in prayer for one another, the parish and the world. Already we have a very valuable intercessory group that meets to pray together in church from 6.45 to 7.15pm on the first Tuesday of each month. We would welcome more members. Anyone can join us. The ministry of the laying on of hands, with prayers for healing, has been re-established, usually during communion at the 10am service on the first Sunday in the month and also (in place of the intercessions) at the 10.30am service on the third Wednesday in the month. Anyone is welcome to come forward on these occasions for the laying on of hands.

One other thing we are re-establishing is a Prayer-Chain. The way this works is that a group of people are committing themselves to pray for the parish and for whatever concerns we ask them to pray for. Originally members would ring each other (down a chain of people) passing on the prayer that was requested (hopefully with the person at the end of the chain praying for something similar to what the original request had been!). The new chain will depend much more on email, but those who want to join the chain can be contacted by phone if they are not on email. Those who join the chain will provide a powerful ministry of prayer within our parish, which can only strengthen and enrich our shared life together, as well as enfold those in need in the love and prayers of the Church. There will be two leaders of the chain – Ann Smith-Nicholls and Sue Pearson. Their names will be included in the magazine. Please contact them (by phone, or better still by email) if you have anything you want members of the chain to pray about. Please also contact them if you would like to become a member of the chain.

Other ideas about prayer are being considered, including the possibility of a parish quiet day at somewhere like Hilfield Friary. If you have any suggestions as to how you feel we could strengthen our shared prayer-life together, please invite round for a coffee and we can talk it through. Above all, please reflect on the question: What can we do that would help you most to grow in the life of prayer? Any suggestions will be most welcome.

With every blessing for a continuing Happy Easter!

Nigel LLoyd 

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