Blood of Jesus, Church, Creative Prayer, Cross Cultural Mission, Evangelism, Faith, God, Grassroots Trust, Jesus, Love of God, Meaning, Mission, Prayer, Red Rope, Sacraments, Symbols, Thy Kingdom Come
This month the Red Rope and I have been part of the Thy Kingdom Come prayer initiative in both Leeds and Guildford. This was initially something launched by Justin Welby (the Anglican church’s senior clergyman, the Archbishop of Canterbury) as part of the season of prayer between the dates the traditional churches have celebrated Christ’s ascension and Pentecost. As a result Anglican Christians have pushed it again this year across the country and there have been a variety of events in Cathedrals, city centre venues and churches.
Our friends in Leeds have a longing to see the Holy Spirit move in the city centre commercial community. Christians gathered at different times in Holy Trinity church, a building that is right in the middle of the shopping district and is the reason the beautiful shopping mall in that area is called “The Trinity Centre”. There were prayer meetings, creative prayer installations, a prayer walk around significant places in the city, a youth prayer event, a visit from the archbishop of York and various planning meetings in the hope of starting regular weekday lunchtime services and, possibly, a city centre chaplaincy.
Lots of practical organising stuff and also lots of prayer and ministry happening.
A highlight of the weekend was meeting with the church that uses Holy Trinity for their Sunday worship gatherings. They call themselves Riverside. (After the summer holidays they will stop using Holy Trinity and instead merging with a church called St Matthias who have a building in another part of Leeds) They are a relaxed and happy group made up of Christian believers and others who feel welcome to be with them.
This Sunday was communion. It was lovely. James, the minister, gathered the children around the table at the front. It was a good group of children from e year olds up to early teens. He then chatted to the children about the meaning of the bread and wine that was on the table – a pile of white bread rolls and two pottery mugs with grape juice. He told the children they were going to have communion themselves and then would be helping him hand it out to everyone else. The kids got very engaged as he explained it all and pushed in close around the table. He has a lovely way of chatting, with gentle humour, smiling and looking the children in the eyes as he explained and asked them questions.
Then it came time to actually give them some bread. He broke bits off and gave them to each child. “This is the Body of Jesus.” Then each had a sip of the juice. “And that is the Blood of Jesus.”
Once all the children had received – even the smallest – James explained how to give communion to other people. He handed them a broken roll and told them to take it to the adults. “As you give them a piece say, ‘This is the body of Jesus’. Make sure everyone gets some. It isn’t a disaster is someone gets more than one piece.” Then similar instructions to the older children who were to follow up with the mug of grape juice, along with a paper napkin to wipe the cup between people taking their sips.
There followed a wonderful expression of community. All age. All involved. Lots of smiles. Chatting, but still serious. In a strange kind of way, profound! Meaningful. Fun. Happy. Good.
The “Thy Kingdom Come” story continued yesterday in Guildford Cathedral. Large crowds gathering to worship on Pentecost Sunday afternoon. Various bands playing, services, prayer stations, creative prophetic areas. The most interesting was an area where professional Christian musicians played music over individuals (who had volunteered to be involved) and then the musicians told the person what they had been feeling as they played.
I was asked to lay out the Red Rope with instructions on cards so that people could join in with all those who had already added prayers to the rope from around the world. So many got involved; praying for their loved ones and friends and adding a tag to the rope with the name of the person who was the target of their prayer. So many got involved that I discovered I had underestimated the number of tags I would need.