Some time ago, I surveyed a walking route around Cirencester. In the same week, our Home group had discussed The Lord’s Prayer. These musings are the result of reflecting on The Prayer in relation to that walk.
As my church’s 2016 Lenten focus is prayer, the first Sunday of Lent seemed an opportune time to publish my thoughts.
I have used the words of the prayer which I learned as a child. I have omitted For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen, which is not found in some early manuscripts of the Gospel of Matthew.
Our Father which art in Heaven.
Is Heaven in colour whilst we live our lives in monochrome?
I walked along tarmacadam roads with cars parked along many of them and a constant stream of traffic going by with a roar from the engine of a truck to the annoying whine of a small motor cycle. The buildings along these streets were mostly of brick and stone, predominantly grey with a few of the newer houses and establishments in red brick.
The Church of Saint John the Baptist, in the High Street, was open and is one of the largest Parish churches in England. I called in to see if it would be open on the day I would be leading the walk and if it was accessible to wheelchairs (it is), as the route is suitable for people who have trouble walking too.
As I entered St. John’s I was struck by two things. The peaceful atmosphere and the beautiful colours in the stained glass windows, both in contrast to the grey noisy world outside.
Hallowed be Thy name
Further along the walk’s route I went through Cirencester park and the grounds of what was Cirencester Abbey, long gone now but the grounds are still well tended. The lush green lawns mown and on the bright sunny day I passed through, families were playing and picnicking.
I couldn’t help wondering how many of the people now enjoying this green oasis had given any thought to the old abbey and why it was there, that it’s purpose was to live by your ways, to praise and glorify your name.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven
Again my thoughts turned to the abbey grounds, although this time not so much the grounds themselves as the people enjoying them. I didn’t see any unhappy faces. Families and friends spending time together, some breaking bread together with a picnic. Children playing and everyone getting along, a kind of peaceful harmony in this escape from a frenetic world. A tiny taste of what could be, perhaps, the Kingdom to come.
Give us this day our daily bread
All along the High Street were places where you can get food and drinks. There were cafés, bars and restaurants, coffee shops, ice cream sellers and street vendors. Something to satisfy every palate but is this the “bread” or food we need? For most of us in the affluent west probably not but for millions around the world, food from any of these places would be a luxury. What is thrown away in a day by some of these places would feed some African or Indian families for a week, maybe more.
The ‘bread’ we need is offered to us by the shepherd who knows and cares for each of his flock with equal love. I wonder how many of us really accept the offer?
and forgive us our trespasses
Most of the walk was in quiet streets, parks and the abbey grounds, but Cirencester High Street was thronged with people and cars, all rushing around doing their Saturday shopping, buying the things they need, the things they think they need and things they don’t need.
In amongst them all is me, not interested in the shops today, following the map and instructions for the walk’s route. As I stride down the sidewalk I constantly find myself behind people ‘rushing around’ but somehow always walking slower than me. I find myself constantly muttering under my breath as I weave from side to side on the pavement impatient to get past, as if I had more right than them to use the pavement.
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Early in the walk’s route there is a Roman Amphitheatre, which I learned from a passer-by was used for games; Roman games with gladiators fighting for their lives, often slaves forced to fight into the arena. Were any of those who were forced to fight Christians? After all, Christians were persecuted by Rome. Did any of those gladiators manage to forgive their captors, or the men they were forced to fight?
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
We might not be led into temptation but it’s all around us. Cirencester High Street, like almost any other street of shops, is crammed with advertising and displays in shop windows all trying to persuade us to buy something. Usually something we don’t need. We might want it but need it? I doubt it. And I’m just as bad, I tell myself that advertising doesn’t trap me into getting something I don’t want but when I really stop and think about it, I can’t say I’m not tempted, nor that I don’t give in to it.
Some more thoughts on The Lords Prayer can be found in a previous post, A Prayer Or A Set Of Instructions.