"When you pray, say 'Father'"

"When you pray, say 'Father'"

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as TLT development worker and am very sad to be saying goodbye. It has been a real privilege to meet so many passionate and engaging people and see the amazing things God is doing in our diocese. I will be praying for the ongoing job of tackling poverty and for all involved in this life transforming work.

 

I’m getting ready for our new arrival now. Yesterday I sorted through the old baby clothes in the storage room, although I had forgotten just how many we had – it took all morning and I ended up recycling as many as reusing. At some point as I gazed across the various mountains of baby grows and sleep suits and hats and odd socks I was hit with a wave of nostalgia for my two year old’s early days. People are very keen to warn you before your first child about how much life changes with the arrival of a baby, and it’s true – life is never quite the same again. It’s not just the nappies and the sleepless nights and the mountains of old clothes, it’s also that your wellbeing and happiness becomes intricately connected and dependant on the wellbeing and happiness of the tiny bundle of joy you hold in your arms. It’s not that things change really but rather that you change. The centre of your being and your perspective, how you understand your relationship with God and the way you make sense of life bends and shifts to rest with your child and it’s exhilarating and wonderful and terrifying all at the same time.

 

This does of course have its drawbacks. For example, it used to be that when I read Harry Potter I saw the action through the eyes of Harry and Hermione and got lost in imagining running down the corridors of Hogwarts, learning how to levitate objects and vanquishing dark wizards. Reading Harry Potter now though is a completely different experience, as I can’t help but sympathise more with Lily Potter, Mrs Weasley and Professor Lupin. It doesn’t stop there either. I get choked up at the adverts about how wonderful families are and how happy babies can be and in fact it gets much worse when the stories are real. I can’t watch the news at the moment without breaking down into a sobbing heap. I just can’t help but view the children in the stories as if they were my little ones and I can’t help but empathise with the joy and the pain of their parents.

 

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray I don’t think it was chance that he instructed them to call God ‘Abba’. He wanted them to realise that the relationship we can have with God is that of parent to child, and that the way God loves us is intimate and whole hearted and all consuming. I know that however much I love my children it is but a pale reflection of the intensity of God’s love for them, and for me. We often think about God as never changing, which is true, but it seems to be one of the mysteries of God that He also is capable of encompassing new experiences, like when Jesus was born as a human. The incarnation changed the nature of the Godhead, and I wonder if the same is true when He created humans. Perhaps as God experienced parenthood for the first time He experienced the sort of change human parent’s experience, as He became full to the brim with love for us.

 

The strangest thing about this sort of love I think is that it can’t help but spill over, just like when I cry at the silly adverts with happy babies. And more seriously my love for my children helps me to empathise with parents who are suffering and children in need and when we empathise we find it easier to reach out in love and act for their wellbeing. In 1 Corinthians 12:26 when describing the nature of the body of Christ Paul writes “if one part suffers, every part suffers’. We are so linked together that our wellbeing is linked to the flourishing of our brothers and sisters, just as their flourishing is linked to ours.

 

What a wonderful image of community. What would our neighbourhoods and our churches, our communities and our country look like if we lived by this principle? What would happen if we thought of the 1.6 million children living in poverty in the UK as if they were our children? What if we considered the 1 in 6 pensioners living with poverty as our grandparents and parents? I think it would create communities that flourished and where no person would be left behind or forgotten, places where the gospel of Jesus shine in care and kindness and love for each other. I think we would find the kingdom of God in heaven brought a little closer to the kingdom on earth. And how wonderful would that be?

Author: Rev Jenny Mayo-Lythall

Date: 29 June 2015

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