It’s been a while since I last published here, and that’s been a time of prayer and quiet. Now it seems God is calling me to turn that prayer outwards again in writing, and I really look forward to continuing this journey with all who read this blog. May these posts bless you and help you.
Today is Ascension Day, when we remember that Jesus ascended in physical form to heaven, to be with God the Father. There are numberless images and artworks about this – after the Resurrection Jesus spent forty days with the disciples, eating and drinking and talking with them. Giving them the courage and direction for what would come next. There is no doubt that he was there in physical form, not a ghost or spirit. But that also he could enter locked rooms, disappearing in one place and appearing in another in ways that ordinary humans cannot. Perhaps quantum physics now offers us scientific answers to what seemed like divine magic to the early Christians.
Jesus tells his disciples that he is going so that the Advocate – the Holy Spirit – can come to dwell with and within them. Later, St Paul says that it is by the Spirit that we are able to say Abba, Father, to God.
At baptism we call the Holy Spirit upon the one being baptised. This is renewed at Confirmation. It is also renewed every time we pray: Come Holy Spirit. When a priest lays hands on someone for anointing, or when a bishop lays on hands for ordination. All these are moments of deep connection and renewal.
However renewal and connection do not need to wait for these spiritual “high points”. It can (and does) happen each and every day. When we receive the sacrament of Holy Communion, renewing ourselves as members of the Body of Christ, spiritually fed and nourished by Him. And when we pray, Our Father, just as Jesus taught us to do.
The Lord’s Prayer is wonderful. It covers all bases, all that we can ask for and need; it connects us with Christians throughout the past two millennia and across the world today; it gives us words when we don’t know what to say; and it is given to us by Christ Himself.
Familiarity with it can make us overlook all this, and we may think it’s just by rote. However there are times that the familiar can bring peace and comfort, especially when we are struggling and feel disconnected and distant from God. In times like these, the Lord’s Prayer may be the very thing that helps us hang on, even by the tips of our fingers.
The Lord’s Prayer is beautiful. Take time to unpack it and really think about its meaning, instead of skimming through the lines as we so often do. Prayer is going to be one of the key focus points over the next twelve months for the churches where I minister. I invite you most warmly to join me in this, in deepening our relationship with God through this most vital means of communication with Him, that He Himself gave to us.
As Christ Himself has taught us, so we pray: Our Father… We are all children of the same Heavenly Father, and each and every one of us is beloved and precious to Him.