Let us pray with confidence as Our Saviour has taught us:
Our Father, who art in heaven,....
It is the most familiar of Christian prayers, usually included somewhere in every Christian liturgy, though rarely in the precise form we find it in the Gospels. Taught for Centuries to every child in the land, it has steadily disappeared from most British Schools since the 1960s. Attempts to lightly revise it into contemporary English continue to cause controversy, and it may even be John the Baptist’s prayer in the first instance. (See Luke 11.1). It is a prayer that all of us, I trust, use every day, and certainly a prayer that many of us instinctively turn to in times of need, or great stress. We rightly honour and treasure the Lord’s Prayer, as a prayer that Jesus used, and as a model and example of how we should pray; praise God, seek forgiveness, and only then ask for what is really needed.
In both St Luke and St Matthew's Gospel (Matthew 6.9-11) the prayer asks that God should give us bread, 'Daily Bread'. We trust God to provide for our needs, for bread is bread, but for us as Christians today, as for the Early Church as they began to use the prayer, bread is something more. It is a symbol of ourselves, the Church, the Body of Christ, and it is a reminder of the living presence of Christ himself, the bread of Christ, the pilgrim’s food, by which we are fed Sunday by Sunday, Lord's Day by Lord's Day at the altar. It is also a call to forgive and be forgiven; if we are to truly recognise Christ in the breaking of bread, the prayer he gave us to use sets before us the challenge of living as forgiving, and forgiven, Christians.
This month we look forward to our celebrations of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, as we keep St Mary's Patronal Festival, and also as we mark Holy Cross Day, and St Matthew the Apostle. We look forward to the beginning of a New School Year, and pray for our new, and returning, young people and staff. At the end of a summer that has witnessed almost unbelievable human violence and hatred, much of it directed at Christians for no other reason than their faith, then let us treasure our freedom to pray and believe, and to live out that belief on behalf of those who cannot.
May our thanksgiving for the gifts of God's love at the altar never cease, may we always be grateful for each other, members of the body of Christ, as we pray for the peace and forgiveness that only God gives, as he gives of himself in our daily bread.
Pax et Bonum – Peace and all Good to you!