Nether Heyford Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul
My Lenten highlight was working with the children of Flore Primary School to create a prayer chain cross, which was later added to by parents, grandparents and members of the various church congregations. The installation is made up of hundreds of paper links, some cut from red paper, and some cut from various newspapers. The newspaper links represent our prayers, thoughts and concerns for the world. The children cut some of these strips from the ‘First News’ paper they read in school, representing the news stories that particularly caught their eye, and other strips were added from local and national newspapers. Were you to look closely at these links, you would see stories about Brexit, climate change, and the terror attack in New Zealand, alongside more local concerns such as the shortage of teachers.
In the midst of all our cares and concerns for the world are the red links that make up the cross itself. On the inside of each link is a little prayer of thanksgiving that begins “I am thankful to God for…” Each child completed a couple of these strips to get the cross started, and the cross beam completed. Other people then added their thanksgivings to the bottom of the vertical shaft of the cross.
The completed prayer/art installation measures one and a half metres across, and
over two metres deep, and hangs behind the glass screen at the back of Flore
Church. It’s very striking, catching your eye as you enter the church. The red links of the cross remind us that whatever is going on in the world, there is always something to be thankful for; family, friends, teachers, good food to eat, clean water to drink, a beautiful part of the world to live in, and so on. More than that, the red cross reminds us of God’s love; the horizontal beam stretching out to embrace the whole world, the vertical shaft going down and down, reminding us that God’s love reaches down to lift us up, however far we might have fallen.
God’s love for us – demonstrated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus – is a love that is beyond measure. It’s an extreme, self-giving love that is not sensible or contained, but it is, I believe, absolutely, dangerously compelling. Whatever our faith, we need more of this kind of sacrificial love. For we live in a world that is becoming meaner and less generous; more suspicious of difference and less tolerant; more divided and less able to take the bold steps that are required to make peace. We need to know and share this self-giving love in our lives, and we need to demonstrate more of it in our families, our churches, our communities and our world.
Yours in Christ,
Stephen – 01327 344436