The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines charged those gathered at the Pentecost beacon event in Wakefield Cathedral to be the agents of change whatever fears they might have, so that when others encountered them, they too would say “Thy Kingdom Come”.
Our Diocesan Bishop was preaching at the Diocesan Beacon Event in Wakefield Cathedral on Pentecost Sunday for Thy Kingdom Come - the global wave of prayer which started on May 25, Ascension Day, and has seen thousands of people across the diocese open their churches for regular daily prayer and engage in a variety of different ways of praying; from walks to different prayer stations over a town to making simple prayer knots with children.
And all of this with the backdrop of terrorist attacks at home and abroad.
In his sermon, Bishop Nick asked: “What would it look like if the Kingdom of God was here. What would you expect to see?
“When Jesus said the Kingdom has come, how would people recognise it?
“It would look something like the Jesus we see in the gospels: those wounded would find healing; those rejected would find welcome; those used to condemnation would find grace; those who think they are right, by right would find themselves challenged….….
“If we want to know what the Kingdom of God looks like; read the Gospels and see the difference Jesus made to ordinary people,” he added.
Bishop Nick had just returned from Wittenburg, where he played a lead role in the Kirchentag celebration which coincided with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. He reminded the congregation that this was where Martin Luther began the reformation, and, where he discovered that if we want to understand the grace of God, we have to live it in our lives.
He said the violence of terrorism will not have the final word.
“In the face of it, we will not be bowed or cowed......however hesitant or under confident we might feel.
“You may not feel very confident – you might think there’s only a handful of us to do it; but there were only 11 of them remember and this group of disciples included the betrayer, the denier, the doubter of Jesus..yet with this, he sent us out into the world.
“When people see you individually or as a church they see something of the God whose face looks like Jesus.. that is why we are here.
“As the Father has sent you, so I send you that we are open today to that same spirit, whatever our fears; that we may be agents of change so that when people encounter us they too say: Thy Kingdom Come.
“That’s what today is about,” he added.
The service was led by the Dean of Wakefield, the Very Rev Jonathan Greener and included modern and more traditional worship songs. Different prayer stations had been set up around the Cathedral, as well as the labyrinth from 2.30pm giving people time to come and sit or reflect for an hour at the different stations before the service started at 3.30pm. Churches across the diocese had contributed with photos of their churches and church communities and activities to help create a special Diocese of Leeds prayer station. After those gathered were anointed they were sent out onto the Cathedral steps with the protest song We are Marching in the Light of God for the charge before they processed back inside for special Pentecost punch and Wakefield Cathedral's own Pentecost biscuits.
Be the agents of change: Bishop Nick charges the people on Wakefield Cathedral steps at the end of the Diocesan Beacon service for Pentecost Sunday.
Thy Kingdom Come across the Diocese
The Pentecost service came at the end of ten days of Thy Kingdom Come prayer events across the diocese between Ascension and Pentecost, from prayer walks to half and whole nights of prayer in parish churches and around deaneries.
The first ‘Beacon’ Event within the diocese was held at Bradford Cathedral at 7pm on Ascension Day, May 25th. Six Prayer Stations were created and were open throughout the ten days until Pentecost. On Ascension evening worshippers prayed using the prayer stations, before gathering for an Ascension Day Eucharist. The period of prayer at Bradford Cathedral came to a climax on Pentecost Eve (Saturday 3 June) at 7pm with a Praise and Thanksgiving event.
At Ripon Cathedral, the wave of prayer continued with a special ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ service on Sunday May 28 . Music was led by a combined choir from Whitkirk Deanery. The Dean John Dobson introduced the service which combined prayers, meditations readings and hymns. The preacher was Bishop Toby Howarth, the Bishop of Bradford.
Several church groups and individuals from the diocese took part in The Big Church Day Out, a two day Christian festival of music over Pentecost weekend at Capesthorne Hall in Cheshire. At the centre of the weekend was the Thy Kingdom Come big top with continuous prayer and worshipful music in a variety of styles. Groups from churches in Normanton, Harrogate and Leeds took part while others volunteered as part of the festival team - Sian Lawton, an ordinand, from Leyburn is pictured (left) working in the Craft Tent. Exhibitors included the Church of England Vocations Team and CPAS ventures.
More events reported on elsewhere took place in Huddersfield (read more here), in Wakefield (read more here and here) and in the Ripon areas (more here) and at Keighley in the Bradford Episcopal Area - more here