St. Stephen's: Welcome Focus 2019
It’s not a new festival for the church. But it’s new in my life time. In the ‘olden days’, I’m no historian so am not sure when we stopped remembering this time, there was an emphasis to pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ between Ascension Day and Pentecost, which this year is - Friday 31st May to June 9th.
I always interested in why old festivals come back ‘in fashion’. I’m wondering why ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ -praying the Lord’s Prayer and particularly ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ for nine days is what we’re doing again. Perhaps we have a longing for God’s Kingdom to come. With the uncertainty around Brexit and around climate change, we have that hankering for ‘good days’, not days in the past but those days God has promised when God’s Kingdom will come. Those days we will see fairness and justice and kindness and goodness and peace, which are all traits of God and therefore will be where God is - in God’s Kingdom.
Recently, I’ve seen other festivals resurrected. In Kidderminster, where I was a vicar, May Pole Dancing on May Day was very popular again; girls and boys seem to really enjoy dancing in a circle weaving and then unweaving their ribbon in a dance. Perhaps because May Pole dancing is an English tradition, being English is what we need to emphasise again.
As a child, I don’t remember celebrating ‘All Souls’ - the time in early November when we remember our loved ones who have died. This is now a strong tradition in our churches. Perhaps other organisations don’t give space for us to grief and remember together our loved ones who have passed on.
We will be able, on Saturday 1st June and Sunday 2nd June 10am to 4pm when church will be open, to sit and pray quietly, to pray for ‘Thy Kingdom to Come’. Would you join me in praying that in the UK God’s Kingdom will come, in our families those Godly values will be in evidence, that in those schools our children attend and in the places we work, those positive principles will be stronger. Join us to sit and contemplate what God is like, to catch a glimpse of God who wants us to be part of this Kingdom.
- Revd. Jan Ashton
Vicar of Hightown, Liverpool