In his New Year’s message in the Leeds Diocesan News, the monthly printed bulletin for the Diocese of Leeds, the Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, encourages Christians to make the Lord’s Prayer a daily prayer and a guide for living in 2018.
Happy New Year
2018 will be a year to remember.
That’s because every year is remembered for something, but we won’t know for a long time what will be memorable. What will happen this year that will change or shape the world for good or ill?
A century ago, an exhausted world celebrated the end of a world war, but it was unaware that decisions being made then would shape even worse events to come within two decades. The fruit of World War Two grew from seeds sown in the ‘peace’ agreements and treaties of 1918/19. So, how might we approach the year ahead, wanting everybody to be happy in it whilst recognising that reality will ensure they won’t?
Why not try taking the Lord’s Prayer as our bedrock, praying it every day and judging ourselves by our faithfulness in being the answer to it?
This prayer begins by addressing ourselves to God who is both close (“our Father”) and remote (“in heaven”). God is not our best mate: intimacy is glued to awe, enabling worship to be about more than an experience of self-fulfilment. God’s name - God’s character - is holy. So, the kingdom we then pray will come on earth as it is in heaven, is to be coloured by holiness - a transparent openness to the God who loves his creation to death and beyond.
We pray that God’s will will be done, not the will of the powerful or the violent ... or even mine.
If we take God seriously, we must only seek our daily bread if we recognise that it is “ours”, not “mine”. We cannot eat while our neighbours go hungry.
If I am not prepared to forgive those who do me down, I cannot ask God to forgive me.
You get the idea.
Whatever else 2018 might be remembered for, I hope it will be shaped by churches and lives lived according to this prayer of Jesus himself.
Happy new year.
+Nick Bishop of Leeds
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
To read the Leeds Diocesan News for January 2018 read and download a PDF here