How to Pray

Jesus’ disciples ask him to teach them to pray. They have seen that prayer – time spent in silence, alone with his Father – is at the heart of Jesus’ own life. A distinctive prayer will be a mark of their own identity as Jesus’ disciples. The prayer that Jesus teaches them is simple, but striking. He tells his disciples to address God as ‘Father,’ in trust and simplicity, as he does himself. He tells them to ask God for what they need – daily bread – and to pray for forgiveness of their sins.

Jesus teaches his disciples, too, to be persistent in prayer. When we pray for what we need, we are expressing our absolute dependence on God; recognising that we receive everything we have as a gift from God, like young children who depend completely on their parents. We may feel discouraged when prayer seems to go unheard; we may even wonder if God hears us. But we should never be afraid to ask God for our needs, and we should always trust that our loving Father wishes to give us what is truly best for us.

Thank You

To those who supported the parish’s fund-raising effort at last week’s Gala. After all the expenses have been taken into account, we made £450 which shall be shared between St Cuthbert’s Hospice and Helping Hands. Having the church open as a peaceful haven was also appreciated by many of our visitors.

Making the Lord Welcome

Jesus visits the house of Martha and Mary, who, as we know from John’s Gospel, are dear friends. The two women make Jesus welcome, but Martha is so busy with serving the food that she becomes anxious and fretful, even falling out with her sister. Jesus gently reminds Martha that hospitality is not only about practical care for a guest. At that moment, what he needs is the loving welcome and attentive listening that Mary provides.

In the Church, we are called to practical service of our neighbour. There are many Marthas, who work tirelessly to meet the needs of others. But service begins with listening and reflection, in order to discern what our neighbour actually needs and wants, and what God is asking of us. To be true disciples of Christ, we need both Martha’s practical care for our neighbour and Mary’s spirit of listening and contemplation.

Sea Sunday

Today, the Church prays for all those who live and work at sea. Without them, we would not have most of the items we buy in the shops or online. There will be a retiring collection for the Apostleship of the Sea, the Church’s official maritime welfare agency, which provides both spiritual and practical support for seafarers. Please remember the work of the Apostleship of the Sea in your prayers, and support the collection generously. You can donate online at www.apostleshipofthesea.org.uk

In the year since Sea Sunday the parish has sent 94 woolly hats to the Apostleship of the Sea chaplaincy at Sunderland Docks. Many of the seaman who visit our shores are from southern Asia and are woefully unprepared for the rigours of the North Sea either in summer or winter. The hats are a token of our concern for them and a thank you for the work they do for us in terms of supplies.

Holy Island

This years pilgrimage to Holy Island with Churches Together in Elvet & Shincliffe takes place on Saturday 20th July. A coach will leave the student union building at Dunelm House at 9am arriving back at Durham in the early evening having returned via Seahouses. The fares remain £12.50 for adults and £10.00 for children. Please book early to avoid disappointment. More details are on the poster in the narthex where booking forms are also available.

Love without Limits

Jesus, asked by a lawyer, ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life?’ reminds the man of God’s commandment to love our neighbour. The lawyer, in response, tries to narrow the scope of the commandment. Who is my neighbour? To whom am I obliged to show care and compassion? In a word, what are the limits of love?

Jesus answers the lawyer’s question with the beautiful parable of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan is moved with compassion for the distressed traveller, and cares for him in the most practical and generous way. He does this in spite of the ancient animosity between Samaritans and Jews. Jesus has turned the lawyer’s question around, from ‘Who is my neighbour?’ to ‘How can I be a good neighbour?’ And his answer is: a good neighbour is one who shows the same unstinting love as the Good Samaritan. Jesus himself will give us the example of love without limits, when he gives his life for us on the Cross. As disciples of Christ, we are called to set no limits to our love, but to be neighbours to everyone.

Messengers of Peace

The prophet promises peace for Jerusalem. After the time of exile, the Jewish people can return to their own land, and can hope for stability and prosperity. The people of Jesus’ time probably hoped for the same things, but the reality was a struggle for survival: subsistence farming, heavy taxation and constant unrest, which would be brutally suppressed by the Roman occupiers. Jesus sent out his seventy-two disciples ‘like lambs among wolves,’ with none of the things that they would normally rely on – money, possessions or even shoes. All that the disciples carried with them was their faith in Jesus. He sent them out with a message of peace; not a peace imposed by the edge of the sword, but the peace of God’s kingdom, brought about by God’s mercy. Their lives would be a witness to the peace of the kingdom. Today, that peace is needed as much as it ever was, and the Lord sends us, his disciples, out into the world to witness.

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