Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven
What do we imagine or long for when we pray these familiar words? Where do we see glimpses of God’s kingdom in our world? How can we help in making God’s kingdom more present on earth?
At the Anglican Alliance, these questions are always close to our heart, but they are especially urgent right now. As the Lord’s Prayer Bible study in our new resource, Faith in the Time of Coronavirus, asks: what could it mean for God’s kingdom to come and God’s will to be done on earth at this time, in the specific context of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Today, Ascension Day, is the start of the Thy Kingdom Come initiative (see below for background). For these ten days, the staff members of the Anglican Alliance have written short reflections on what they hope for when they pray “Thy Kingdom Come” for their region or area of work. Each contributor has written from their heart, sharing their longings both in the specific context of COVID-19 and more broadly. They write of their prayers for – and glimpses of – peace, reconciliation, restoration of ecosystems and relationships, for justice to prevail, for economic empowerment, for food security, for better health, for resilience and for flourishing.
We hope the reflections will give you insights into the challenges and joys in different areas of the Anglican Communion, help inform your own prayers and help you feel connected to the work and staff of the Anglican Alliance. The contributions in this piece are from:
In part two, which we will publish in the coming days, we will hear from Tagolyn Kabekabe, Anglican Alliance Facilitator for the Pacific; Dr Janice Proud, Disaster Response and Resilience Manager; Joel Kelling – Anglican Alliance Facilitator for the Middle East and Revd. Canon Rachel Carnegie, the Anglican Alliance’s Executive Director.
The ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ initiative
Since 2016, the Archbishop of Canterbury has invited Christians around the world to set aside the days between Ascension Day and Pentecost to deepen their own relationship with Jesus Christ, pray for five friends or family to come to faith in Jesus and pray for the empowerment of the Spirit that we would be effective in our witness. The initiative has grown extraordinarily to become an ecumenical, global movement. In 2019 Christians from 172 countries took part.
This year, the context for Thy Kingdom Come is, of course, very different and this is recognised by those who have prepared the resources. In the introduction to the 2020 initiative they write,
The Holy Spirit always has an address, speaking in our mother tongue, thereby applying and particularising the work of Jesus Christ to certain individuals in different locations at distinct times. So, when we pray ‘Come Holy Spirit’ during Thy Kingdom Come 2020 we pray in this specific context of the COVID crisis, with all that we face, all that is unknown and all we are helpless before.
“Haven’t we sensed more than ever the longing for the Kingdom of God – where there is no pain or crying, no injustice or loneliness? Haven’t we longed for God’s ways to be seen in the world? Haven’t we been most moved by those who give their lives to serve all that the Kingdom of God stands for? We long for signs of the Kingdom. And as a church do all we can to serve that Kingdom…. This year we will be encouraging all not simply to pray that friends and family, colleagues and neighbours might encounter the love of God in Christ, but that they would experience that love in action.”
So this year’s Thy Kingdom Come, with an emphasis on both prayer and care, sits close to the heart and focus of the Anglican Alliance and echoes the question of our Bible study: what could it mean for God’s kingdom to come and God’s will to be done on earth at this time, in the specific context of the COVID-19 pandemic?
I have a dream: that every person in this region can experience life in all its fullness in their home country – a life of comfort, perhaps even a little luxury; with food for the family, hope for a better future for their children and to know God who loves and cares for them.
Each time I have returned home from Myanmar, my flight has had at least one group of young men who are heading for Malaysia as migrant workers, in the hope of a new world where their dreams, and the hopes of their families, will come true. As I have looked at them, I have wondered what their future will hold – will their dreams be fulfilled or, their lives destroyed? And then, I have offered a prayer for these young people who are unknown to me but known to God who loves and cares for them.
Now as the COVID-19 crisis looms over us, I wonder once again about the fate of these hundreds of thousands of migrant workers all over Asia, stranded in a foreign land. Most were employed by restaurants or factories which had to close when the crisis hit. Their daily wage gone, and their lives now confined within cramped rooms and dormitories, it would appear that their dream of a perfect life is gone – for who knows how long.
“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done” … O Lord, how we long for Your kingdom to come – the perfect Kingdom where Your will reigns. A new heaven and a new earth, as promised in Revelation 21. In the midst of so much anxiety, fear and uncertainty, how we long for this new earth.
Recently, at a reunion of a few friends whom I had not met for over 30 years, one person said as we reminisced, “The blessing I see is that we are all happy with what we have and what we had”. And we recognized that this is because through all our good and hard times, we had our wonderful, almighty God to cling on to.
This is my prayer for my people: to know the God who can transform their lives in an unbelievable way. Then it will truly be, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done.
To pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ when considering those affected by human trafficking is to ask for the kind of societal upheaval Jesus points to when he says ‘Many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first’ (Matt 19:30). Here, Jesus describes God’s kingdom as a place where the overlooked and marginalised are not only treated with equality and dignity, but where they enter first. Raising up the forgotten and the hidden and the oppressed is the very kind of value reversal Jesus called his first followers to, and to which he continues to call us today as he invites us to pray for his kingdom values to be realised on earth.
The global pandemic we are currently facing has confronted many with the isolation and lack of freedom that migrant workers and victims of human trafficking experience on a daily basis. Many of those caught up in these injustices have sadly not received any aid at this time and remain largely unseen by the rest of society. Migrant workers are living in conditions where the virus can spread quickly, they lack access to healthcare or hygiene supplies, putting them at great risk. The pandemic has highlighted the position they had faced long before any lockdown was introduced as being the last to receive support or help, many stripped of their freedom and often overlooked by others.
As we pray for those who are trafficked and exploited, we are not only inspired to imagine a world free of these injustices, but we are invited to respond to the prayer ourselves by joining in with the kind of work Jesus identified as central to his mission ‘To bring good news to the poor… to proclaim release to the captives… to let the oppressed go free’ (Luke 4:18). We are currently seeing examples of churches doing this by walking alongside migrant workers as they provide food parcels and deliver hand washing and hygiene supplies to labour camps. Churches are looking at how they can protect those who have become increasingly vulnerable to exploitation having lost their livelihoods due to the pandemic by running advocacy campaigns and supporting the most vulnerable. In these ways and more we can live in hopeful expectation of what God’s kingdom will be like when it is fully realised. The examples encourage us that when praying for God’s kingdom we must ourselves look to the ways in which we can lift up those on the outskirts of society, and demonstrate the kingdom values by putting first those who so often come last.
We long for those affected by trafficking and the injustice of exploitation to experience freedom, to be treated with dignity and regarded with the intrinsic value which Jesus emphasises by placing them right at the centre of God’s kingdom.
I sometimes wonder why Jesus did not stop after saying “Thy kingdom Come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” In my mind, the rest of the Lord’s prayer, elucidates, in some way, this hope: no hunger (daily bread), no burden (forgive us, and we also forgive others), no anguish (save us from trials, and deliver us from evil). Indeed, “Thy Kingdom Come” seems to present an ideal type for human existence. We see the absence of hunger, burden and anguish coming from both our reliance on the good and ordered provision of Almighty God and some action on our own part.
Perhaps few places can consider the abundance and provision of God more than these tropical zones. Here, crops grow year-round, some fruit is always in season, the sea is teeming with life, the soil is fertile and the air is clean. That is, of course, until these processes are disrupted through human action such as pollution and climate change.
Psalm 65 appears to have been written for the Caribbean:
You make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.
You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with richness.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.
COVID-19 is upon us. In the Caribbean, like many other places around the world, there was a mad rush to the supermarket to buy imported canned and processed foods to stock-up. And there is great anxiety about what will happen if the container ships, which carry the processed imported foods, no longer arrive. But the bountiful diadem with which God has crowned our years lays wasted.
My hope for us in the Caribbean is that we will embrace the Kingdom that has already come amongst us… and live into it… living in grateful reliance on God, being good stewards of the abundance with which we are blessed… living in harmony with each other and with creation… trusting God for the wisdom to discern and the strength to resist anything that yields anguish.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
Lord, I ask that you would bring about the full equality of women and men, boys and girls in our world. That the underlying causes of gender inequality and injustice would be undone and removed so that every single person, born in your image, is able to flourish and grow into all that they can be in you and reflect your true gift and glory, contributing to the healing and redemption of this world, as you intended.
Lord, I long to see good nutrition for mothers, and for babes to grow to their fullest extent before birth. For mothers to be able to give birth safely and in sanitary conditions. I want to see girls and boys having the best nutrition as they grow up so that their young minds can fully develop and grow to be able to be educated to the best of their ability. I look for the equal education of girls and boys, for equal access and opportunities, and for teenage girls to continue their education post puberty and not be taken out for early marriage, putting them at grave risk of abuse and death. For the sake of decency, I want to see young women have access to free menstrual management items so they can carry on with their education and not be embarrassed. For there to be enough school toilets for girls and boys and that they are separate and hygienic.
I long to see equal opportunities for access to higher education and universities, where there are no barriers to the subjects women can study or their choices seen as unusual or their ability questioned simply because of their gender.
I want to see an end of the ‘firsts’ – the first women to achieve this and that – because women are accepted and included as the norm in the workplace. For women to be valued and respected in their workplace and not fearful of harassment or abuse or being overlooked.
I long to see equal responsibility for household management where the triple burden on women is no more. I want to see responsibility for household income, the work of running the household and childcare discussed and shared and managed equally. I want to see thriving and flourishing relationships where love and peace are at the centre of the home and children are loved and cared for within that environment.
Lord, I want to see women who are more mature in years being respected and not side-lined, to be heard as well as seen. To continue to be seen as an essential part of our church family, offering wisdom and advice from their years of learning.
Lord, Thy Kingdom Come, as it is in heaven, so be it here on earth. Your people, women and men, boys and girls, flourishing together radiating your love and glory.
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