Thy Kingdom Come 365

By The Revd Canon Andy Bryant, Canon for Mission and Pastoral Care - 28 May 2019
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Each year between Ascension Day and Pentecost the Archbishop of Canterbury calls the Church to a time of prayer under the banner Thy Kingdom Come.

Just as at Christmas we celebrate Jesus coming into the world, so at the Ascension we celebrate Jesus returning to heaven. Following his resurrection appearances, his disciples finally see Jesus taken from their sight as he ascends to heaven. Before leaving them, Jesus tells the disciples to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. After the Ascension the disciples returned to Jerusalem and were continually in the temple. It was a time of prayer whilst they awaited what would happen next.

At the feast of Pentecost, the disciples were all together when the Holy Spirit came upon them. It was an experience so transformational that a group that had been frightened and afraid suddenly found a new confidence to start preaching and teaching about all they had learned from Jesus. It is often called the birthday of the Church.  This is the moment when the disciples found the strength and confidence to continue the ministry of Jesus. It is because of that moment that the Christian story was passed on from generation to generation and was ultimately passed on to us.

As those first disciples spent time in prayer between Ascension and Pentecost so Archbishop Justin is encouraging all Christians to keep the nine days between these two great Christian festivals as a time of special prayer. Just as then the coming of the Holy Spirit transformed those first disciples so our prayer is that people today will continue to experience the presence of God’s Spirit in their lives.

In a special message for Thy Kingdom Come, Pope Francis has spoken of how easy it is for our hearts to shrink and become smaller. In praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit we are asking that our heart may enlarge and widen, that each of us may know God’s love in our hearts and reflect that love to everyone we meet.

It is good to have special times of prayer and at the Cathedral we will be sharing in Thy Kingdom Come. But there is another sense in which every day is Thy Kingdom Come at Norwich Cathedral. Every day, 365 days a year, we begin the day with Morning Prayer and end the day with Evensong. Twice each day we celebrate Holy Communion and offer further prayers. On the hour each day we call everyone to stillness and offer a prayer. Each day countless candles are lit, and prayers written by our visitors. Truly Norwich Cathedral is a house of prayer. Prayer frames and shapes every day at the Cathedral.

We believe that it is part of our calling at the Cathedral to be faithful in prayer. Even when others are too busy and cannot stop to pray, we will make sure, every day, and through each day, we are praying. In particular we pray for this our diocese of Norwich for our Bishop and for each of the parishes and chaplaincies under his care. Alongside that we hold in prayer the needs of the world and of our local communities as well as remembering particular individuals in need for whom we have been asked to pray. We long for God’s Kingdom to come on earth, that the world may know peace and justice and all people find health and wholeness.

Thy Kingdom Come will see Christians uniting in prayer across this country and across the world. When this special time of prayer come to a close the prayers at Norwich Cathedral will carry on unceasing as they have done for the past 900 years. Whether it is just a handful gathered for Morning Prayer or a service where the Cathedral is full to bursting, our commitment is to ensure that this is a building shaped by prayer.

Prayer is not about trying to bend God to our will. Rather it is about allowing ourselves to be changed by God, to be open afresh to God’s possibilities. Our prayers are an expression of our love and care for the Church, the world and all in need. Placing our needs before God challenges our attitudes, priorities and perceptions. Making prayer the centre of our lives is our affirmation that both as individuals and as the world we are at our best when the love of God is at the heart of all things. This is what we mean when we pray each day: Thy Kingdom come.

The Ascension Day Evening Eucharist will take place at Norwich Cathedral at 6pm on Thursday 30 May. All parishes are invited to join us for the Eucharist during which Thy Kingdom Come Candles will be blessed and distributed.

On Sunday 9 June the Festal Eucharist for the Feast of Pentecost will take place at 10.30am. On the same day there will also be a City Service at 3.30pm which will be preceded by a special procession from City Hall at 3pm involving members of the clergy, the city's civic and education leaders, the Norwich Whifflers and Snap the dragon.
All are welcome to join in with the procession and services.

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