Summary of Lent Lunch reflections in 2016

The Lent Lunch on Thursday 18th February raised £90 for Christian Aid.  With thanks to the Methodists for their soup and hospitality.

We reflected on the first 10 words of the Lord's Prayer:

Our Father

The prayer - a pattern for our whole Christian discipleship - begins with a relationship.  Our position as followers of Jesus stems only from the fact that God loves us - it starts with God, not us!

Some people might find it helpful to think of God as both father and mother (after all, God has no gender and we are all made in the image of God) - what is important is that we know 'God's parenthood and his loving care'.

who art in heaven

Where is heaven?  Since the news of gravitational waves billions of years old, certainly not out there in space!  Heaven is where God is - a parallel kingdom that is very close.

Hallowed be thy name

Hallowed means honouring that which is holy.   We pray that we will honour God's holy name - and therefore God himself (because a name represents the actuality...)

Final thought:  Back to the first word: 'our'.  Christianity is a collective experience - the pattern for prayer is meant to be prayed in community.  We have our individual relationship with God in Jesus but the community relationship comes first.

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The Lent Lunch at the Roman Catholic Church attracted a similar number of people - somewhere between 25 and 30.  Many thanks to Father Michael and to the team of ladies.

Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven

God's Kingdom essentially means his reign.  Specifically, his reign in us.  So, when we pray for God's will to be done, we have to ask what we are going to do to bring about God's reign in ourselves.

We thought about the Beatitudes (beginning of Matthew's Gospel) and people suggested particular qualities mentioned there which Father Michael then expanded on.

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The Lent Lunch at Wymondham Abbey fed 20 - 25 people and included a look at the new extension of St Benedict (where the lunch was held). Another £90 was raised for Christian Aid. Many thanks to Father Christopher and to the soup team.

Give us this day our daily bread.

Jesus tells us to ask for daily bread on two levels:

1. The simple request for bread in order to survive (90% of the 1st century Palestinian population would be living on, or below, the breadline as millions do in our world today).

For us: "In our lives where luxuries have become an almost daily experience taken for granted, we need to recover a sense of simply being satisfied with ordinary bread, and this is referring to every aspect of our living - simply satisfied that others may be sufficiently sustained."

2. For those who accept Jesus as the Messiah, the desire to receive him as the Bread of Life in the very deepest sense.

For us: "May we remember, and be thankful, that He will go on feeding us when we have no more need for the bread that perishes, when we share in the eternal banquet of heaven."

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The Lent Lunch at Fairland URC was not so well attended but £48 was raised for Christian Aid. Many thanks to Jennifer and to her team.

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Forgiveness was central to Jesus.  He got into hot water early in his ministry when the religious establishment thought he was too generous with God's forgiveness. For Jesus, God's forgiveness was like that shown to the Prodigal Son by his loving father.

God's forgiveness is:

1. sheer unmerited grace

2. sheer but not cheap

Sheer grace, but not cheap, was a phrase introduced by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. For him, for Jesus, grace was a costly business.  We're only entitled to ask for forgiveness by the measure we are prepared to forgive. A forgiven people must be a forgiving people.

Societies in our own world are becoming increasingly unforgiving.  The hardening attitude to those fleeing not only war but also growing inequality; the retreat behind walls, barriers and borders - is resulting in our societies becoming much more unforgiving places. It all stems from the readiness of Jews, Christians and Muslims alike to turn our backs on the amazing generosity of the one God. 

The antidote is the lesson of today's section of the Lord's Prayer.

A prayer (which is a hymn):

We turn to God when we are sorely pressed;
we pray for help, and ask for peace and bread;
we seek release from illness, guilt and death:
all people do, in faith or unbelief.

We turn to God when he is sorely pressed,
and find him poor, scorned, without roof and bread,

bowed under weight of weakness, sin and death:
faith stands by God in his dark hour of grief.

God turns to us when we are sorely pressed,
and feeds our souls and bodies with his bread;
for one and all Christ gives himself in death;
through his forgiveness sin will find relief.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906 - 1945 

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The final Lent Lunch back at the Methodist Town Green Centre was  attended by around 25 people and £113 was raised for Christian Aid. Many thanks to the Methodist team for serving and for providing soup from the Garden Tea Rooms!

Lead us not into temptation...

What temptations might we think we would fall into?  Oscar Wilde's saying "I can resist everything except temptation" can ring very true. 

Did Jesus mean that we should ask not to be tempted at all?  Or, that when we are tempted, we will have the strength to resist?  If the latter, then we are asking God for his strength and power to resist the unhelpful thoughts, feelings and actions that all too easily tempt us.

...but deliver us from evil.

This sounds much more serious than the temptation part.  What do we think of when we think of the word 'evil'?  One suggestion would be that 'evil' is everything that is not of God.  So, we ask to be delivered from things that are not of God, and things that are opposed to him.

Interestingly, the word 'deliver' has the word evil in it (albeit backwards).  This seems significant as though evil is dealt with as God delivers us and protects us.

A final thought:

We began with the fact that the Lord's Prayer is about our Christian discipleship. It is a pattern for Christian living which begins with God's love for us (He is our loving Father) and ends with God's help and protection.

What better prayer to pray each day than the one Jesus taught us?