Beloved Sisters and Brothers in Christ…
Happy New Year! I pray that 2022 brings answers to your prayers and hopes for your family and friends, for life and work, and for your church and community.
When we pray, we bring before God the things that are on our heart, and we share them. God knows this already, but prayer is our way of giving God permission to act in our lives. God loves us and always acts in our interest and for the best for us.
I hold you in my prayers always. I have found that my relationship with God has deepened and become a two-way process because I spend time in prayer every day and because I invest my time talking about Jesus with other people. Every time I listen to someone talk about the difficulties they face in life, and I offer to pray, I see their faces light up. So many of our neighbours just have no idea where to start with prayer and when you or I offer this, it is like we’ve offered the most precious gift in the world.
Every morning I say the Daily Office of Morning Prayer. I have a pattern to where I pray, Monday I sit on a bench outside the Riverhead in Marsden, Tuesday at home, Wednesday I am inside St James’ Church, Thursday I’m inside St Bartholomew’s Church and Friday I’m on a bench outside the Commercial in Slaithwaite. It takes me about 30 minutes as I read the Old and New Testament, I read the Psalms and I pray. The act of spending time in the community praying changes the way I pray: on Mondays and Fridays I am bombarded by the life of our villages and it changes what I pray for. I find myself regularly holding before God, the needs of the people who run our shops, pubs, cafes, schools and businesses.
I hold these needs before God and I say, “Almighty Father, help. Help us, please.”
This morning I was reminded of the gospel story about the men who took their friend on a stretcher and lowered him through the roof of the building Jesus was in. They hoped that Jesus would heal their friend. Prayer is like that. I don’t know how God will act, but I know that God acts. I know that as I bring the needs of our community before Jesus, he looks with love at us and makes changes.
As we head into 2022, there are some significant challenges ahead of the churches in our Benefice. When my interim ministry ends, what will happen? What do you want to happen? May I suggest that your hopes for the church in 2022 become part of your regular daily prayer? God is listening and waiting to hear what you care about. God acts: what do you want God to do for the church?
If you don’t know what to pray, may I offer you this:
God of mission,
who alone brings growth to your Church,
send your Holy Spirit to give
vision to our planning,
wisdom to our actions,
joy to our worship,
and power to our witness.
Help our church to grow in numbers,
in spiritual commitment to you,
and in service to our local community,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
With love in Christ, Graeme.
The Reverend Graeme Holdsworth
Interim Vicar of Marsden and Slaithwaite