A group from St James’ by the Park ran a ‘prayer for the world’ stall at FOSJP’s international family day a few days ago. Esther Clift writes …
I wonder how you define your mission community? Mine is complex and messy – a bit like my life, really. I have lots of communities - work, home, running, and church to name but a few, and they each hold more than a hundred people!!
I’m not part of a formal Missional Community at St James’ by the Park, but I try to share the good news about Jesus’ love and salvation with anyone I come into contact with.
St James by the Park was invited to have a presence at the Bringing Communities Together event at the International Family Day, in the Park.
We had a space to pray for the world, with a large map, and stickies to note where and what to pray for. What a great opportunity to meet with folk on neutral space, and talk about what matters to them, and what matters to us too!
I was struck by the amazing privilege it is to pray and listen to people. One old friend started telling me about their recent marriage break up, and I was able to pray with another of their concerns for the drug problem among youngsters in Shirley. Others prayed of their profound shock at seeing the Grenfell Towers and all the devastation it has brought to that community.
We had people from other churches with specific hearts for ministries around the world, from the Community Church, from The Shirley Warren Action Church and some Jehovah’s Witnesses concerned for the loss of religious freedom in Russia. It was lovely to have students from St James’ by the Park, back for the summer, stopping and praying with others.
We prayed for Morocco, for Pakistan, for children in Kenya, as well as Uganda and Myanmar. We prayed for Syria, again and again, and people wanted us to pray for peace in the whole world.
So what were we really doing?
And what is God doing?
We say we’re wanting to turn our church community inside out; to be where people are at – not simply expecting people to come to us. This was one small way of doing that – meeting people from all over Shirley, some of whom would never set foot in a church building. We gave them space to connect with their spiritual side.
The Park has been a huge part of our mission over the last 10 years. The last event like this was pretty much run by the team from St James’ by the Park who secured the lottery grant, designed and oversaw the developments and the building.
But this is our community! These are people I have stood at the school gates with, worked along side, dug the park flowerbeds with, and now started running with. These are people we share life with, the highs and the lows. This is were the nitty gritty of living out ‘community’ really takes place
I’m reminded of the Hillsong chorus ‘touching heaven changing earth’, because that’s exactly what we do when we pray - asking God’s Kingdom to come here on earth, and bring healing and wholeness.
And what a privilege to be touching heaven with people we love, and in our own neighbourhood.