Sonia’s article in the next edition of The Diary April 13, 2017Posted by nicholastufton in Uncategorized.
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In a recent UK national survey it was revealed that six out of seven people pray. This is in marked contrast to those who claim to have no religious beliefs, a number which has climbed steadily to 50.6%. What is going on here? To what or whom are these three to four people in every seven praying and what results do they expect?
Maybe they are indulging in what is known as Pascal’s wager. If God exists, believing in him and living accordingly offers heaven as an upside and mild self-denial as a downside. Not believing, and being wrong, leads to the fires of hell. There’s also the deathbed comment attributed to various famous people that, when asked by the priest to renounce the Devil and all his works, responded with “Now is not the time to be making new enemies.”
Jesus’ followers asked him to teach them how to pray. He responded with, “Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” ‘Father’, is the nearest human analogy we can get to the nature of God’s relationship with us. In Jesus’ day the father was the legal head of the household and was responsible for all its members over whom he had the power of life and death. In Genesis we are told that we are all created in the image of God, the whole spectrum spanning male through female and encompassing all good parental stereotypes. ‘Hallowed’ means, may you and your name be acknowledged as holy. People swear using powerful words. Which is why ‘God’ and ‘Jesus’ may get used along with those describing various bodily functions. That is not hallowing God’s name.
Jesus continued, “Your kingdom come come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” In heaven all are living in harmony, surrounded by love. There is perfect justice and neither pain nor sorrow. “Give us this day our daily bread.” ‘Bread’ is shorthand for food, shelter and all that is necessary for body and soul. “Forgive us our sins as we forgive the sins of others.” If we harbour anger and resentment, it is very hard for us to receive forgiveness ourselves. “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” We are asking for a parent’s good guidance and protection.
You may or may not pray, but if you are minded to, a good structure is firstly acknowledging its recipient and recognising his holiness, praying for the world to become more like heaven, asking for what you need, forgiving those who have wronged you so you can experience the freedom of forgiveness and asking for care and protection. You may be astonished at what happens next.
Sonia. 07747 844265
November Diary Article by Ruth Pyke October 21, 2016Posted by nicholastufton in Uncategorized.
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I will not be growing a moustache for Movember! Suddenly every month has a charitable focus, a sponsored challenge. So we were exhorted to Go Sober for October and men are challenged to grow a moustache for Movember – both initiatives to raise money for cancer charities and awareness. People seem to love a challenge – whether it’s the Herts and Beds Historic Churches bike ride raising money for our village churches, moonlight hikes or abseiling from church towers! There are any number of activities which both raise money and challenge our personal fitness or courage.
Recently I began the Thames Path – a walk of 180 miles along the Thames to the source. We will do the walk in stages, discovering new stories along the way and remembering key events in our lives which centre along the Thames Valley, the places which used to be home and where Richard and I grew up.
A friend has recently completed a pilgrimage to Canterbury, travelling on foot like the famous Canterbury pilgrims. Others are walking the famous Camino, or way, to Santiago de Compostela. There may be an opportunity next year for pilgrims to travel to the Holy Land from our local churches. However we travel, a pilgrimage challenges the body and the mind. We have time to think and new stories to discover. It can also be a time when our thoughts turn towards the deeper questions of life and death.
November itself is a pilgrimage, as we travel towards the beginning of Advent. In that pilgrimage too there are times when God can come especially close. Whether we are remembering the great saints of the church or those whom we loved and knew, or standing in silence and respect as we remember those we never knew but who went to war in the hope of winning freedom for our people. Those moments of remembering offer a chance for God’s love to steal into our hearts.
During November some have set themselves the challenge to explore the Christian faith through a Confirmation group meeting at the Rectory. There is space for more! So what is your challenge this November? Will it challenge your inner being as well as your personal stamina; your faith as well as your strength? Will it give you time to remember and time to move on?
May God bless you in your challenges this November and always.