Our church is taking part over the days between the Ascension (25 May) and Pentecost (4 June) in some special days of prayer with our Diocese and the wider Church. The theme is: “Thy kingdom come.” Those are very well-known words from the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus taught his disciples and that we still use today. The prayer is not all about looking forward to heaven in some distant future, but it is about praying for God’s kingdom of justice and peace to come on earth. We can all pay a part in this. We know that there is much that is wrong with our world and just lately that reminder came very near to home with the shocking events of the Manchester bombing. We pray for all the victims, living and departed and for their families, friends and all who mourn.
There are no easy answers, but we pray that those who have suffered a terrible loss may be strengthened and comforted. We pray for the people who are working to keep us safe and for people in authority who have to contend with a very difficult situation. At the same time we can pray for the people who are vulnerable to radicalisation, that they might choose instead a better way forward in life. Christians put their faith in a God of love. We do not have all the answers to the events that shock and frighten us, but it is not the soft option to place our hope in the love of God. The desire for revenge which can erupt by scapegoating minorities in our society only contributes to the evil in our world. As the Bishop of Manchester said in recent days: “In a battle between love and hatred, love will always win." We have seen this in recent days in the selfless actions of strangers, the kindness of different communities and the solidarity which refuses to be overcome by fear.
The Diocese of Manchester has issued the following prayer for those who wish to use it and we are using this to pray that in this dreadful situation people might experience healing and new hope:
God of compassion,
you hear the cries of all who are in trouble and distress; accept our prayers for those whose lives are affected by the bombing in Manchester.
We pray especially for those suddenly facing a future without a child, parent or loved one, young ones who are in deep distress; those who are injured, traumatised or awaiting news.
Strengthen them in their hour of need,
grant them perseverance and courage to face the future and be to them a firm foundation on which to build their lives; this we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.