Bishop Steven’s seven reasons to say the Lord’s Prayer each day

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The following is reproduced from Bishop Steven (Bishop of Oxford)’s Blog from December 2017, which you can find here. I found it a helpful explanation of the Lord’s Prayer, especially if you try to hear it anew.

Don’t forget you can contribute to the Stoke Poges Church blog: send your ideas and photos to heather@stokepogeschurch.org

Now over to Bishop Steven…

Most of us learn the Lord’s Prayer as children. But then we forget what it means. Over the last few weeks I have found myself teaching the Lord’s Prayer to several different congregations – over 2000 people in all, including many young people.

We live in a world and a country with poor mental health.  Yesterday [3rd Dec 2017] the government announced £300 million new funding for children with mental health measures. It’s welcome but already people are saying it won’t be enough.

There is increasing evidence that our consumer culture actually undermines mental health, especially in the young, and creates a deeply demoralised society prone to depression and other mental health conditions[1].

Jesus gives his disciples a prayer not to teach them to be pious but to help people everywhere to live well and flourish.

Here are seven reasons why the Lord’s Prayer is good for mental health – seven reasons to say the Lord’s Prayer, as Jesus intends, every day.

  1. To remember who you are

Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name

To say the first line of the Lord’s Prayer is to answer the deep question of identity at the heart of our culture. We no longer know who we are.

The first line of the Lord’s Prayer reminds us that we are not random specks of matter floating through an infinite universe: we are created and called into relationship with our creator who loves us as a parent loves their child.  We are called into relationship with our fellow men and women as sisters and brothers.  You are loved and your life has meaning.

  1. To find courage to live well in an imperfect world

Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven

The world is not yet as it was intended to be.  God is at work within it, bringing justice and peace.  That work was begun in Jesus Christ but is not yet complete.

We are aware of the suffering in the world like no other generation before us because of 24-hour news and instant reporting from anywhere in the world.  We need a framework to understand that immense suffering and the evil in the world in order to know how to live.

  1. To find the only way to be content

 Give us this day our daily bread

All year we are bombarded by advertising: every time we look at a screen or listen to the radio or open a magazine.  The single aim of advertising is to steal our joy and create discontent and longing for more stuff or different experiences.

Jesus teaches his followers to pray each day not for more but for just enough.  This is the open secret of what it means to be content and find joy in this life: to realise and appreciate what we have.  This line alone is the antidote to the misery created by consumer culture (especially at [Christmas]).

  1. To learn to live with our imperfections

Forgive us our sins….

Sins are the ways in which we fall short of the ideal.  All of us do that.  But our culture creates expectations of perfection.  We think we are supposed to look good, perform well, make a great impression in every moment of our lives.

Jesus gives us a prayer to say every day which simply acknowledges that we fall short – we are not perfect people. Each day we can come to God and ask forgiveness and seek help and strength for the day.

  1. To learn to live with the imperfections of others

….as we forgive those who sin against us

The Lord’s Prayer reminds me that other people are imperfect as well.  I need a way to deal with my own rubbish and with theirs. Otherwise all my relationships will be spoiled and clogged up and I will increasingly be alone (which is actually what happens to people who are unable to forgive).  Somewhere near the root of many mental health conditions is isolation.

Jesus offers us this prayer to say each day in which I let go of and forgive the things others have done to me: the small slights, the neglect, the careless words, and begin again.

  1. To be resilient in a challenging world

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil

Consumer culture eats away at our resilience by persuading us that life should really be comfortable and easy all the time. That is one of the deepest lies ever told.

Human life is difficult. Over the course of your life you will face many challenges: illness, adversity, relationships which go wrong, failure and, in the end, mortality.

To live well is to have an understanding that life is challenging and hard, because of the imperfections in the world, in yourself and in others.  But strength and help are available in God in all circumstances.

To pray the Lord’s Prayer each day is to prepare yourself for whatever difficulties lie ahead.

  1. To understand the end of the story

For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen.

This part of the prayer was added by the Church.  It’s not there in the two places in the Bible where Jesus teaches the Lord’s Prayer (in Matthew 6 and Luke 11).  It takes us back to the beginning.  It reminds us that a life lived well is a life lived with purpose to the glory of God.

It reminds us that in the end, God holds the end of the story.  God will bring all things to completion.  God will watch over us through this life and welcome us, beyond death, into the life to come.  That God is over all and in everything and all manner of things shall be well.

Most of us learn the Lord’s Prayer as children but never fully understand what it means.  It’s impossible to exhaust all the meaning in the prayer.

But say it, if you can, every day of your life to remember your identity, to find courage, to learn contentment, to live with your imperfections and those of other people, to build resilience and to understand the end of the story.

+Steven Oxford

[1] See John F Schumaker, The Demoralised Mind, New Internationalist, April, 2016 https://newint.org/columns/essays/2016/04/01/psycho-spiritual-crisis

World War I Commemorations

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The Church was invited to take part in last Saturday’s village event “Spirit of Victory” to mark the Centenary of the end of WWI. In scorching temperatures and with a quick adjustment of the schedule to accommodate a football match, the whole day went with a swing.

Deputy Lord Lieutenant with the French Standard bearerThe tale of two villages – Stoke Poges and Etricourt-Manancourt in the department of the Somme – and the remarkable woman, Mrs Dorothy Allhusen, who brought them together through her philanthropy, was told by Cllr Ralph Bagge, Chairman of Stoke Poges Parish Council and Lt Col Simon Wilkinson, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, (in both French and English!). The Mayor of Etricourt- Manancourt, M. Jean-Pierre Coquette was an honoured guest.

We sang both national anthems and the Act of Remembrance was read by local children.

Andrew leading prayersThe Church was represented on stage by Revd Andrew Parry who led prayers and an address and we offered refreshment in the form of Cream Teas in partnership with the WI, orchestrated by Cream Tea Queen Bee, Kate Holliday.  A huge thank you to everyone who made scones or donated other goodies and those who helped out on the stall – we have discovered a collective talent!

 

Noreen and Nicky on their way to the Tea Tent

Some of the congregation stayed to waltz the night away to the band and the whole village witnessed the fireworks which rounded off the event.

We look forward to supporting and participating more village events as a church very much part of our community.

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Editor’s note – A portrait of Mrs Dorothy Allhusen by John Singer Sargent was recently restored in its home in the USA. Click or paste this link for a short Youtube video about it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ME6hZGuPYtk

Reaching out in Faith – July All age service

There were more people involved in the service than sitting watching at this month’s all age service!

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We experienced what it was like to be part of a crowd  (“scary, hot and smelly!”) and listened to two stories woven together in Mark’s gospel: the woman healed by reaching out to touch Jesus’ clothes; and Jesus reaching out to heal Jairus’ daughter, when everyone thought she was dead!

We thought about what it might be like to be the person in a crowd whom everyone wanted to avoid (“sad and lonely”). But TJ reminded us that if we are feeling sad and lonely, Jesus will always be there for us to turn to. We also thought about how we might treat people who we think are different to us and how we could be more like Jesus and reach out to them, even if it might seem strange to other people.

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Our prayer team for the day

Join us for our next all-age service on 5th August for more crowd participation and great stories.

What is Worship?

Words are funny things – a word with only one meaning in one person’s head can have multiple meanings to another, let alone what you’ll find in the dictionary.

Take “worship” for example. This is worship…P1040062 (2)

and so is this (it’s not the YMCA, honest)…P1040341

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and this (it’s a daily devotional on Instagram)Instagram wireformen praying hands

The Church of England says “Worship lies at the heart of the Christian life. It is in worship that we express our theology and define our identity. It is through encountering God within worship that we are formed (and transformed) as his people.”

Christian worship involves praising God in music and speech, readings from scripture, prayers of various sorts, sermons, and various holy ceremonies (often called sacraments) such as the Eucharist (Holy Communion).

Whether we choose to honour God with silent prayer or by ringing bells across the countryside; music written 300 or 3 years ago; scripture from a book, a smartphone or our hearts; sermons from ministers or laymen – He is listening.

In Stoke Poges, we can’t offer you stadium-style worship but we have just about everything else! To find out which service might suit you, talk to Andrew or TJ or just roll up one Sunday and experience it for yourself!

Here’s our usual service pattern. We rotate Communion through these services, so check our website or give us a call if you’d like to know what time it is this week. Directions are on the left of this page.

9am Traditional Service at St Giles’ Church

10.30am Family Service with children’s activities at St Andrew’s Church

6.30pm (except first Sunday of the month) Evensong at St Giles’ Church

Worship the LORD your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.” 2 Kings 17:39 NIV

Treasure in jars of clay

This month’s all age service, led by Simon and TJ, explained that although we all start out shiny and new, as we go through life’s twists and turns, we become a bit like broken jars. Rather than “fixing” us, Jesus died for us so that, despite our brokenness, the “treasure within” can be seen through the cracks.

As Simon preached, the children illustrated the sermon with their own version of a cracked pot, mended with “gold” (tissue paper), like a kintsugi repair.

Join us on 1st July for our next All-age service with bacon sandwiches served before the service and another really interesting talk.

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Village Fete Fun!

Glorious sunshine blessed the village fete on Saturday (until a short sharp shower about 4 o’clock!) and lots of faces from our congregation popped in (or slaved the whole day!) to help make the event a big success. The Coffee Shop team raised over £200, the children really enjoyed the craft activities and there was plenty of opportunity to chat. The Men’s Group skittle alley was also in action. Thanks to TJ for the photos!

Lots of ideas about what we could do next year…

The Coffee Shop’s Knit and Natter group raised funds for Alexander Devine Hospice:

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Some of the Church team ready to welcome children to make bracelets and key tags (for free!)

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Plenty of opportunity to chat with passers by as the children were busy making crafts:

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Preparations for the Village Fete

The Knit and Natter team (who meet every Tuesday morning at St Andrew’s Coffee shop in term time) have been beavering away creating a mountain of beautiful items for the Village Fete. Alison Wheatley is Number One engine in this amazing machine, ably assisted by the many hands (and brains) of the group.

For all items sold, 80% of the purchase price will go to Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice. They now fund Alexander’s Nurses who support families across the local area, in their own homes, providing much needed respite, palliative care, emotional and practical support. They are working towards building a children’s hospice centre for these local familie,s which will be supported by a home care team.

20% of the purchase price will go to The Coffee Shop. This fantastic community facility that started with a flask and an empty room, continues to be an oasis for busy villagers, a warm welcome for those who come to ballet, a creative space for art and craft ideas and a test audience for local entrepreneurs’ new business ideas.

We still rely on volunteers, but we are now in a purpose built coffee shop.

The Village Fete is this Saturday in Stoke Poges School grounds from 12.30pm. Stoke Poges Church members have two stalls – the Knit and Natter goodies plus children’s craft activities and are helping to marshall parking. The Men’s Group Skittle Alley will be in action too. If you can help in any way, please contact the church office before 12.30 on Friday.

Items for Sale on the Knit & Natter stall…

Key rings and fridge magnets £1.00

Mixture of animals various sizes from £1 to £20

Covered note books 20 different designs £2.50

Passport covers £2.50

Children’s jumpers and cardigans £4.50

Car seat size baby blankets £4.00

Cushion £4.50

Tea Cosy or Cafetiere cover £5.00

Ballet dolls £10

Cushions and matching foot stool £20