Did You Hear the One About…? 40 Days with Cartoon Church
Day 31 – Wednesday after 5th Sunday of Lent
From the Scriptures:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, 4 who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
(1 Timothy 2.1-4)
The Anglican Church in Southern Africa, in the days before the end of Apartheid, had much trouble reconciling itself to the above text. In England, I find it a joy to pray for ‘The Queen’s Majesty’; in South Africa I never prayed for the State President – be it BJ Vorster, PW Botha, or FW De Klerk – with the same depth of affection and earnestness!
It is all too easy to fall into a ‘pick ‘n mix’ approach to prayer for people in positions of authority. Archbishops and other leaders do carry a large weight on their shoulders and deserve our frequent prayer. However, the young nervous acolyte who leads the procession in the cathedral followed by Choir, Canons, Dean, Bishops, and Archbishops also deserves time in our prayers.
Next week, on Maundy Thursday, clergy the world over will renew their ordination vows. The bishop will ask all those in deacons’ orders to stand, (even archbishops remain deacons) and say their diaconal vows. Then the deacons will sit and priests and bishops will renew their priestly vows in front of the Diocesan bishop. In our diocese the priests then sit and a rather special moment happens. Our diocesan bishop removes his mitre and stands in the congregation with the suffragan and assistant bishops whilst an unnamed chorister asks them to renew their episcopal vows. Our bishops know the need to be servants and the dangers of being placed on a pedestal!
There is no hierarchy of vocations; some are just a little more visible than others. All the people of God, and so all vocations, are of the same value. The Body of Christ will not function properly if all its parts are not knit together as one (Ephesians 4.16) with each part serving the whole body.
Yes, we must pray for those who are seen as the ‘major players’ on the stage of Church and State. I did pray for the Apartheid era South African State Presidents, perhaps with anger in my heart and through gritted teeth, but they were prayers that needed to be made. I also prayed for those who were most affected by the blindness and self-serving nature of their policies.
Duduze, the malnourished grandchild of our church caretaker; the young Coloured (yet pale-skinned) parishioner married to a White husband who had a back street abortion with each pregnancy in case she gave birth to a dark-skinned child; the drunk skollie in the gutters of Johannesburg who, over-used to being beaten, shied away in fear every time you offered them a hand to lift them up.
All of these, along with Vorster, Botha, and De Klerk were part of the Body of Christ and deserved, yea needed, the prayers of the church. It was a folly to pray, ‘God bless Africa, Guard her children, Guide her leaders, and give her peace’ If we did not desire blessing and peace for the whole nation and not simply those people with whom we agreed.
Prayer changes things and costs little. We should aim to be people who are lavish in our prayers for others and aim to make it, in any situation, a first option instead of a last resort for ‘all sorts and conditions’ of people.
Holy Father, make us holy,
Holy Jesus, make us holy,
Holy Spirit, make us holy,
Holy God, makes us whole
(Institute for Christian Spirituality – Anglican Church of Southern Africa)
- Learn the name of one (unknown to you) person who helps with your regular worship and pray for them each day for a week.
- As we approach Holy Week pray about your own vocation asking if you are called to something different, new, or deeper in answering the Spirit’s call.
All Cartoons are copyright © Dave Walker. Please visit http://www.cartoonchurch.com if you would like to laugh even more J
Prayers are from the collection ‘Praying with the World Church’ compiled by USPG.
Please support their work by visiting http://www.uspg.org.uk
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
These Reflections, ‘Did You Hear the One About…’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2017